Nashville based trio Judah & the Lion is thrilled to announce the September 9th release of their debut full-length studio album Kids These Days via Good Time Records. The album was recorded in Nashville this past March with the incredibly talented Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson) producing and Pete Lyman (Best Coast, Jason Isbell, Ben Harper) mastering. The result is 11 honest heartfelt songs that capture the passion and youthful spirit of the three founding members – Judah Akers, Brian Macdonald and Nate Zuercher.
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Raw, Real and Required Listening| Posted December 31, 2014
I first came into contact with Judah & the Lion during their set at Creation Festival Northwest this summer. I had walked past the indie stage only to hear an Appalachian-inspired rendition of Eminem's "Lose Yourself" that I couldn't ignore. The three-piece put on a pretty incredible show that was high-energy, musically excellent, and diverse in its execution.
The band is by no means new--just new to me. And with their latest effort, Kids These Days, I'm guessing they're going to be known by a whole slew of new fans.
"Kickin Da Leaves" gets your attention right away with a head-nodding hip-hop beat that you don't normally feel with the rambling bluegrass licks of a banjo. Lots of fun repeating words: "And when when when when when you you you you find find find find me me me me I'll be kickin da leaves!"
It's an uptempo beginning with a more melancholy lyric driving it: "I don't know my way back home / The light broke at the end of the tunnel."
"Good Time" is a chilled out song about the inability to change: "Wait to find a crazy ride. You see the road, but you don't take it. You fight to lead a different life. You won't change it." It seems trivial, and almost insulting, to say that fans of NEEDTOBREATHE and Mumford & Sons will enjoy this, but the truth is, they will. It's not to say they sound like them, but there's an incredible lyrical honesty to go with their banjo-wailing performances that put them in that good company. It's a compliment of the highest order in this case. (Judah & the Lion explores different subgenres better than their contemporaries, though, delving into Bluegrass, Americana, Folk, Appalachian and even a little Southern Rock musical tendencies.)
Judah & the Lion waxes reflective on the changes life brings, and this is most specifically detailed in "Everything Changes," a song about just that. Brother and sister go from playing basketball and with dolls to filing tax reports and getting married. Despite all the changes, they powerfully sing, "You don't change for anything; You won't be moved... You're always true," in a statement of God's stability.
In what's essentially an anthem of the "Quarterlife Crisis," the song "Twenty-Somethings" sums up the young adult experience: "Running scared / Running free / Full of light / Got no money / Yeah, that's us / Twenty-somethings." Haunting, ohs in the background illustrate the longing for direction that's endemic in a generation.
The song "Scared" is a testament to the fact that God never leaves. Akers sings about all the things of which he's scared (including "vampires that fall in love," a la Twilight), but says he's not afraid of being alone. It's a toe-tapping number whose musical feel belies its more weighty subject matter, with the exception of the underlying organ.
"Mason-Dixon Line" is an ode to the South, where Akers sings about wanting to grow old below the famous delineation between America's North and South. There's some slide guitar snuck in there that adds a nice texture.
"Ain't it funny how the simple things in life are the only things that really matter?" posits "Rick Kids," a song with that same kind of driving rhythms as the opening track. There are some fun mandolin licks in the verses that add some character to the tough love lyrics that are delivered. It's a song about how as a society we tend to put our value in the wrong places, and we're silently suffering because of it: "Your accounts are full, but all you've found is that you're empty." Akers sings about the Truth of being rich despite having no money.
I heard "Sing Me Your Song" as lyrics delivered by God to His people: "I'm coming for you
All your veils have disappeared / Will you let me through / So my love can replace your fear?" It's a chilled out ballad that's beautiful and honest. The "lai-di-lai"s provide a happy exclamation point on a song that essentially says that it doesn't matter what you've done, God wants to know you.
The most musically divergent track, "Water," shows Akers' lower register as he sings "you feel the water rising up." Definitely more of a Southern-style track than an Appalachian one, the song talks about the weight of life, pain and shame, and our inability to get rid of it ourselves. But it also provides the solution: "There is love, you refused to let it in because you knew it would be making you change." It's a darker toned song that feels like an old-school Gospel song driven by trip-hop beats.
Probably the album highlight and most marketable radio single, "Love In Me," is a beautiful Americana-sounding tune about what it means to carry the love of Jesus: "And I got this love in me. / But it's not just mine to keep. / Like treasure that's buried deep. / I come alive when I set it free." Like something that is the closing song in a movie where the central character is redeemed and radically changed, "Love In Me" is a memorable, dramatic anthem. The band played this song during their Creation set and it was a crowd-pleaser, and it's the kind of song I hope thousands will all sing together in unison someday.
"I ain't no hipster, I ain't no redneck... I guess I lie somewhere in between," sings Akers on "Somewhere In Between," a fun ditty about his quirks and preferences. Before talking about enjoying a beer with dinner and hanging out with sinners, the song declares, "Oh, and I'm in love with Jesus. / I have so much hope and peace down in my soul."
"I ain't no preacher. I ain't no heathen by any means. I guess I lie, I guess we lie somewhere in-between," the song closes out.
There's a reason Judah & the Lion is a nominee for Best Indie Band in the Third Annual WE LOVE CHRISTIAN MUSIC AWARDS. They're incredible. They put on a stage show that has you dancing to hip-hop music one second, and on your knees in worship the next. They're real. And that realness translates in all 11 incredibly produced tracks on Kids These Days.
The banjo, when used properly, is one of the most emotional instruments--period. And this three-piece finds ways to use the banjo--along with emotive vocals and percussion--to create raw, real emotions about changes, life, and faith. This is seriously one of the best-kept secrets in music (not just Christian music), and everyone should put this album on, get out a journal, and reflect on your life. I guarantee you'll be better for it.
Song to Download Now:
"Love In Me" (Get it on iTunes here.)
GREAT BLUEGRASS FOLK CROSSOVER| Posted February 11, 2015
You have got to listen to this album. It'll remind you of other fun, thoughtful bluegrass and folk you've listened to before, but you've feel happier after hearing it....and hearing it....and hearing it. And you gotta see them live. I havn't had that much fun at a concert since the old school five iron frenzy days.