by Jamie Robash
photo by Connor and Rachel Dwyer
Tennessee three-piece Judah & the Lion are a musical Proteus shaping rock, folk, electronica, bluegrass, and hip-hop into a Southern-fried stew of melodic, high-octane hits. Vocalist/guitarist Judah Akers, mandolinist Brian Macdonald, and banjoist Nate Zuercher formed the group in 2011 at Nashville’s Belmont University, initially finding a following for their Christian theme-based songs. As time wore on, the band widened their thematic schematic to appeal to a broader audience. This along with their sound, which is impossible to nail down, brought the band early attention with their debut EP, 2013’s Sweet Tennessee, followed a year later by their opening full-length, Kids These Days, further propelling them into the spotlight with their viral single “Kickin’ da Leaves”. Their popularity grew ten-fold with their certified gold single, “Take It All Back” from 2016’s Folk Hop N’ Roll. Their latest, this year’s Pep Talks, is their most intimate and introspective offering to date.