Review: Judah and the Lion Make a Mighty Roar
Judah the Lion/The comeback/Cletus the Van Records
Four out of five stars
With their aptly titled fourth album, Judah the Lion come into their own as a dynamic yet distinctive folk-rock band capable of sharing both inspiration and invention. It’s no small feat given the daunting state of the world these days, but thanks to their dynamic outreach and an effusive expression of hope and optimism, they still succeed admirably.
Now down to a duo of Judah Akers (guitar and lead vocals) and Brian Macdonald (mandolin and backing vocals), Judah the Lion still manages to produce a powerful sound, via an inspired set of songs that have to do with the transcendence of the troubles and upheavals encountered during these last difficult years. The captivating refrains that animate songs such as “Open Your Eyes”, “Take A Walk”, “Happy Life”, “Be Real Now” and “Make Me a Kid Again” offer the most obvious examples of Akers determination and of Macdonald to go beyond present circumstances and find reasons for redemption even when the odds seem insurmountable. With soulful arrangements and frenzied beats imbued at every turn, it’s nearly impossible to resist the invitation to rise up and find the strength to thrive and persevere. Last shipment of the album, the expressive title “Things Are Looking Up” sums up their position:
As for me, my senior year sucked
I was gonna make a few million dollars
But I stayed home and twiddled my thumbs
I guess that’s how it goes
The seasons come that make you grow
And then sometimes you find a little luck
But things are looking up…”
Certainly, those with a more cynical mindset might accuse the couple of sticking to a Pollyanna-like precept, especially given the blind faith that these verses echo. Then again, with sounds as inspiring as these, there’s good reason to believe in all the possibilities. Likewise, a valuable, if somewhat penetrating, version of Stevie Nicks’ “Landslide” also finds its place. Ultimately, this Leo makes a mighty roar.
Photo courtesy of Stunt Company