Judah and the Lion’s latest music video, “Suit and Jacket” continues the folk-hop band’s 7-year conversation with youth, adulthood, death and meaning within the context of a new outer-space theme. The video, off their new Folk Hop and Roll Deluxe album, features an opening scene with band members Judah Lee Akers, Nate Zuercher, Brian Macdonald and Spencer Cross sitting in a small blue-lit bedroom. Akers sings, “I ain’t trading my youth for no suit and jacket.” His is a common refrain within the lyricism of the band. He continues, “I ain’t giving my freedom for your money and status,” folding imaginary bills in his left hand.
The song continues in an array of piano, drum and keyboard soundscapes supporting the trademark major-key banjo sound of J+TL. The sound is cleaner than previous records and has a glossier production. Yet it still has the heart of J+TL in it.
The video loudly questions the human condition, about what it means to “grow old too quickly,” as the lead singer Akers says in the chorus. In a Twitter post, Akers explained his inspiration for the song.
2016 was a very emotional year for me. My first nephew was born in May and a month after my grandpa passed away–as well as two close high school friends. There is something about new life and death that makes a person think and reflect on his/her own life–this song is my thoughts. We cannot control the speediness of life, we cannot control the time we die, but we can control what we do with our time here. I don’t want to be a person just ‘surviving’ and getting through the day. I don’t want to be ‘roaming’ around. I want to live! I want you to live! If you read this far, you are amazing. Thank you for your support and love.
The video supports this idea of taking life by the horns by showing Akers putting on a space helmet and yanking protective plastic off a Honda motorcycle, which he proceeds to ride through the night on. The bridge chants out “Some of surviving/Some of us just roaming/Some of us just hoping the world will move more slowly/And some of us alive/We’re all gonna die some day.” The video finishes its last verse showing the band taking off into space, presumably toward Mars itself.
What the band has accomplished in its short tenure as one of alternative music’s most diverse and fast-growing bands is in this video- a battle cry for the disillusioned 20-somethings of America. It is a timely testament to the fear and excitement many young people experience as they leave college, their homes, their lives to launch fully into adulthood and the world they find foreign to them. The video and song are a play between these two worlds, Earth and Mars, reality and dreams, emptiness and fullness, old and young, death and life. J+TL love to make life-affirming tunes about family, friends, fun and God. Yet they are also comfortable questioning where the meaning and life is really at these days. The basic tenet of this song is questioning everyone, taking a moment to really stop and look around and smell the roses and question the importance of things like 401ks.
Ferris Bueller would likely approve.
Photos: Judah and the Lion