Much Afraid was highly anticipated after the success of the band's first album, but due to a noticeable stylistic shift, the album was not as well received. The lead single, "Crazy Times" did not do well on mainstream radio, though it was accepted at Christian radio. Since the sound had more of an electric-guitar driven sound, many fans expected Much Afraid to be more of a rock album than its predecessor. Instead, the album seemed to go the other way, taking a more lush and melancholy approach, scaling down the strings and drum loops that the band was known for. The lyrics were also more interpretive and less explicitly Christian than before, focusing more on relationships and emotional issues, though the album's title track and "Hymn" both mentioned "Sweet Jesus" in their lyrics. Some have compared the sound of this album to that of Toad the Wet Sprocket, a band noted for being an influence for Mason and Haseltine of Jars of Clay.
"Fade to Grey" and "Frail" were both previously from the group's debut demo recording Frail in 1994. All other tracks from that demo were recorded for the debut album Jars of Clay in 1995. Both songs were changed significantly, especially "Frail" which was previously an instrumental piece which now contained lyrics. Notably, these songs were two of the first songs written by Jars of Clay.
The album features the multi-instrumental Greg Wells, who plays drums and bass guitar on almost every song and co-wrote "Tea And Sympathy" and the single "Crazy Times".
The song "Five Candles (You Were There)" was originally written for the soundtrack to the Jim Carrey film Liar Liar, as the film is centred around a five year old's birthday wish, but the song was cut from the credits in favor of a blooper reel. The song was subsequently featured on a few other movie soundtracks. The album's title is a reference to the main character in Hannah Hurnard's allegorical novel Hinds' Feet on High Places.
One track that was recorded during the Much Afraid sessions that did not make the final track listing is "Fly Farther". The song, featuring vocals from Alison Krauss, was finally released in 1999 on The White Elephant Sessions.
This album earned the band a Grammy Award for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album.
|Year||Billboard 200||RIAA Certification|
|1997||"Crazy Times"||Modern Rock Tracks||38|