Jour Majesty – Album Review

Jour MajestyIt does not take long to realize that Jour Majesty has something special going. These days, many bands in the country-pop genre seem formulaic and repetitive, with each song a similar variation of singular theme. Not so with Jour Majesty (JM). Although there is a distinctive sound common to all their compositions, partially due to the unique vocals of the lead singer and composer Michael C. Perry, each tune has a life of its own. The same can be said of the overall arrangements; just a little out of the box but not too far as to become distracting. JM songs flow smoothly, each with a different twist, but warmly relaxing in most cases.

The instrumental performance of JM is top tier as well. Many feature banjo and pedal steel guitar, such as their most recent release “The Situation Now”. This instrumentation definitely brings it into the Country feel, and the performance and execution are flawless. The orchestration and arrangements around these instruments are well-balanced, and again the songs seem to flow smoothly and fluidly. Audio mixes are excellent, very well-balanced, and the vocals are well up front. Everything seems to fit in nicely, and again there’s a mellow easy warming feel to their songs.

Jour Majesty – The Situation Now

The song “The Situation Now” is upbeat and has a nice overall feel, with a banjo and pedal steel giving it that Indie Country feel. It’s definitely a timeline story kind of song, again with the singer leading us on a journey that seems to be very personal and specific event related. A one-on-one relationship with someone is conveyed. This concept works fine and I felt as though I were getting an inside look into something very personal. It has some nice lyrical hooks and some smoothly arranged breaks in it, and a very well placed short chorus section. Overall, This song has an upbeat feeling about it with deep lyrics. As I mentioned before, this is also one of the songs with lyrics that are a little complicated and don’t seem to flow very well and some sections, but overall is not that distracting and the song works well, with nice hooks and segways between verses.

While all their songs seem to have common feel, what really pulls them all together are the lead vocals by Michael. He has a very distinctive voice and it’s consistent from track to track. Again, his singing style lends to the easy feel of the songs, mostly upbeat, warm and relaxing. Lead vocals are tastefully supported by some beautiful harmony backing tracks, which is usually used consistently, but sporadically and with great impact. On a few of his songs, I hear a Cat Stevens like aspect to his vocals. Without a doubt, the signature sound of Jour Majesty is based upon Michael’s unique vocal tone quality which makes JM easily identifiable.

If I had to pick one area that I thought could improve, it would be related to the lyrics. Lyrics are always somewhat of a personal taste issue, but I find some of them a little forced and overly complicated in certain sections. Simply too many words within a phrase, and not quite rhyming well at certain points. I’m big on rhyming, but that might just be me. Although the vocals sit well in the mix, sometimes it’s difficult to make out the words.

It is clear that the songwriter has a story to tell in most of his songs. Sometimes a very specific story, that seems to be written more to a certain individual rather than to a broad audience. It’s hard to follow along sometimes with exactly what he is saying or where the story is going. Sort of feels like the lyrics were written before the actual song and melody, and then forced in later. They generally work, but certain sections seem a little choppy and packed in.

Another song, “Angel” is again upbeat with nice harmony lines. A beautiful overall feel and it builds intensity and energy level nicely, turning into a real toe tapper. “Angel” includes some very tasteful trumpet reinforcing and adding to the sonic complexity. Nice vocals here as usual, and some great imagery conveyed in the lyrics. Again, a descriptive tale of a relationship between two people. At a little under 3 minutes, this song seems to really fly by. I find this song very easy to listen to and enjoyable. The kind of thing I will play when waking up with a cup of coffee and get my day going.

JM’s song “Empty Box Of Wine” is one of their more ambitious undertakings I believe, certainly more complex in areas. The Cat Stevens style of vocals really pops out right in the front of this track. And shortly after the listener is treated to some fantastic harmony overlays, very sweet and easy on the ears and which continue throughout most of the song. The underlying cello work really pulls it all together and gives it a warmth and emotional appeal.

On the flip side, “Empty Box Of Wine” is a one on one conversation with someone lyrically, with a complicated message that I find a little hard to follow at times. Sort of a love song, but not sure if happy or some bittersweet problems. However, as with a lot of Jour Majesty songs, the lyrics just are what they are, and the beautiful arrangements and melodies throughout overcome any of the overly detailed lyrical content, so that listener is uplifted and engaged regardless.

After listening to the songs above and other Jour Majesty releases, I can say with confidence that if you like one song you will like them all in general. Most are upbeat and very well done, with excellent arrangement and smooth warming feel. Very well produced, with exceptional harmony work and great instrumental performances, and the distinctive vocal style of Michael pulling it all together.

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