Judah The Lion/Revival/Cletus the Van Records
Four out of Five Stars
With their aptly titled fourth full-length album, Judah the Lion truly comes into their own as a dynamic yet distinctive folk-rock outfit capable of sharing both inspiration and invention. That’s no small accomplishment given the discouraging 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 consisting of Judah Akers (guitar and lead vocals) and Brian Macdonald (mandolin and contributing backing vocals), Judah the Lion still manages to make a mighty sound, via an inspired set of songs that have to do with transcending the trouble and turmoil encountered over the course of these last few difficult years. The riveting refrains that power such songs 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 and Macdonald’s determination to move beyond the present circumstances and find reason for redemption even when the obstacles seem insurmountable. With stirring arrangements and surging rhythms imbued at every turn, it’s all but impossible to resist the invitation to rise up and find the strength to prosper and persevere. The album’s final send-off, the expressively titled “Things Are Looking Up” sums up their stance:
As for me my last year sucked
I was gonna make a couple zillion bucks
But I stayed home and twiddled my thumbs
I guess that’s just the way it goes
Seasons come that make you grow
And then sometimes you find a little luck
But things are looking up…”
Granted, those of a more cynical mindset might accuse the pair of holding to a Pollyanna-like precept, especially given the blind faith echoed through those verses. Then again, with sounds as inspiring as these, there’s good reason to believe in any and all possibilities. So too, a precious if somewhat percolating take on Stevie Nicks’ “Landslide” finds a fine fit as well. Ultimately then, this Lion makes a mighty roar.
Photo courtesy Stunt Company