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Album Review: Judah & the Lion - 'Revival'

Updated: May 3, 2023

The pandemic is lingering, and at times, it feels like the world has slipped into madness. War, mass shootings, Monkey Pox, and needle-spiking. Customers at restaurants are berating their servers more than ever, and road rage seems to be escalating. Depression, social anxiety, and emotional distancing have moved beyond six feet. It feels like we are becoming individual islands. However, Judah & the Lion use their musical platform to say, “One day, we’ll be happy again/we’ll be innocent.”

As I have stated many times, the first song is crucial. If it does not capture what I am about to listen to, I will find the album difficult to appreciate. (This is not entirely true. I do not think “Burn the Witch” fits A Moon Shaped Pool, but I love the album.) “Open Your Eyes” on Revival starts quiet and melancholy, yet hopeful. At the minute mark, it adds a new layer of sound, and then at two and a half minutes, the album really starts. The first song is dramatic but building and perfect.

From that point, Judah & the Lion gives their listeners a collection of songs that are heartfelt but uplifting. Judah Akers speaks to his family, friends, and specific people in the lyrics. They start wide and far, like in “Take A Walk” and “Scream.” “All of my friends are a mess/just trying to make sense/of how to live in a world/that can be so depressed.” And, “They say death and taxes/are the two sure things in life . . . maybe that’s why we’re screaming on the interstate.” Then they begin to address personal relationships in “Happy” and “Blue Eyes.” “I never liked letting go . . . but if this happens to reach you/this is I love you/I hope you find your happy life.” And “When the sky is without a cloud/it feels like your blue eyes/look into mine.”

The turn happens with “Landslide.” Yes, a cover of that one. It is followed by “make me a kid,” the only instrumental song on the album. (As a side note, I wish they would have scattered a couple of these moments throughout.) Then, the songs are about building everything back up. “Sometimes you gotta get lost if you want to be found.” “The journey’s never easy/but the deeper the roots run/you’ll find that you’re at peace/when the heavy winter comes.” And “I’d give you a billion hugs/just to say you’re enough.”

Judah & the Lion addresses the stresses of living in this modern world. Yet, that is merely to relate. The album’s purpose is to use music and their words to share the hope they feel. They want to come out of the pandemic better and want the same for their audience. If that is not a complete and total album, I do not know what is.

Final Thought: After my first listen to Judah & the Lion’s Revival, I thought about something a former professor once said: a positive story with good vibes and minimal conflict is not a story. He added, “And I find them very boring.” It concerned me because I did not know how to address an album with so much positivity. However, the more I listened, the more I heard the conflict. It is hidden amongst the positive messages. But that’s the reason, right? The positive growth is supposed to outweigh the conflict.

Favorite songs: “Take A Walk,” “make me a kid,” and “Find Another Reason Why”

Rating - 4.9/5 because I wanted more “make me a kid” moments

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