Fans have been waiting on the edge of their seats for a new J&TL project since the release of 2014’s Kids These Days. Good news: the band is back with a fresh-faced, bold album. Folk Hop N’ Roll is here, and we love it.
Folk Hop N’ Roll kicks off with the bold yet dreamy declaration of “Graffiti Dreams”. Setting the stage for the rest of the album, it pretty much says “we’re here, we’re not going away, and here’s what we hope to do.” The song feels good, and reassures you that the project ahead is about to be incredible.
Riding the coat tails of previous dreaminess, “Forever, Always” is a sweet tune about love. But don’t be fooled, it’s not just any mushy love song. “Forever, Always” sings about love with commitment – the messy, growing-gray-with-the-one-you-love commitment. It’s a safe bet that the band drew some of this song’s inspiration from Judah’s recent marriage, which makes it even better. It’s refreshing to hear a band such as J&TL sing about loving someone when most of the love songs you hear today are centered around one-night stands and casual hook-ups.
If you were curious as to what this whole “Folk Hop N’ Roll” sound is like, then take a listen to “Folk Hop Sounds” or “We Own the Night”. It’s a mix between the folk sound you’re used to hearing from the band and a ’90’s hip-hop vibe, but with an undertone of bass and other groovy guitar licks. Judah and The Lion are always on a mission to do their own thing, and they do it well on Folk Hop N’ Roll. The album sounds the way a dance party with your best friends feels.
“Take It All Back” was the first song released as a single from Folk Hop N’ Roll. It’s a shoutout to the fans for the support they’ve given over the years – which you may have picked up in the beginning of the song, since it includes a sweet serenade featuring some fans at a Tennessee show. This song may be particularly special for anyone who has attended a show before because it feels like you’re at a live show dancing with your friends again. “Take It All Back” is a fan favorite on this album, and it’s easy to tell why.
If you are missing albums of the past, “Folk Hop N’ Roll” has those straight up folk sounds, too. “All I Want Is You” and “Better Man” stay centered around that mandolin/banjo feel. It’s a subtle reminder going back and forth from the sounds of previous albums to the new mix of sounds the band is creating that the guys are growing musically and lyrically.
Finally, “Uh-Huh Yeah” completes the album with some funky vibes and mando/banjo riffs. If you’re planning on seeing the band live, this is one you can be looking forward to hearing. It’s upbeat, fresh, and easy to love. “Uh-Huh Yeah” was definitely written to be performed, but is also enjoyable on full volume in a car with the windows rolled down. Just sayin’.
Overall, this is a perfect album for spring break, which is just around the corner. It feels like freedom and declares hope for the future. There’s something to be said for the way J&TL can make sounds that are different from anything you’ve heard, but make you feel comfortable at the same time. Folk Hop N’ Roll is the band’s most original album yet, because it shows a deep growth in every aspect of the musical side of J&TL, as well as the personal side. It is also clearly shown how much the performing side of J&TL has developed over time. More on this album than any other, you feel like you’re right there with them at a show. It’s odd to feel that way when hearing a CD, but it’s true. This is a great way for the band to kick the year off, and we’re excited to see what’s in store. Congratulations, guys!
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