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Judah and the Lion, April 9, Knitting Factory

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On a few levels, Nashville-based Judah and the Lion reads like a band trying to emulate how groupss like Mumford and Sons soared to mainstream heights: a semi-eponymous/somewhat oblique band name; a focus on old-timey folk instrumentation (like mandolin and banjo); and imagery rife with the JATL boys goofin' around in a kinder, gentler early 20th century small-town America (see "Sweet Tennessee"). JATL also has something else in common with the indie-bluegrass-revivalist acts of late: heartfelt, well-crafted, danceable, sing-along songs. The title of JATL's sophomore full-length album is Folk Hop N' Roll (self-released, March 2016) and during a Jan. 12 appearance on Conan, frontman Judah Akers introduces JATL as a "folk hop band." Normally, the only word before hop should be hip, bunny or Lindy but damn if these guys—particularly Akers—don't make it work. The performance of orchestral, anthemic chart-topping single "Take It All Back" is outstanding, proving JATL doesn't need to slide into the slipstream of other acts. To get to the top, this band can ride a comet all its own.

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