A series of strong singles in 2014 established West Des Moines native Max Jury as able to craft instantly-classic songs influenced by laid back seventies West Coast singer-songwriters. These singles, which included the tongue-in-cheek “Black Metal,” started the snowball of acclaim and fueled expectation of his self-titled debut album, out on June 3.
Jury’s current home base is London, but the songs on his debut are pages from his diary filled with his time in the US recording the album. In an interview with Huffington Post he explains that the album was written as storytelling in his voice, adding, “This is really a look into my life and the lives of my friends for the last two years.”
“It was the golden age of being lost in love,” Jury sings in “Great American Novel,” which summarizes the emotionally honest, at times achingly sad, at times hopeful and pining tour of people and their relationships from the perspective of a writer quickly becoming my favorite tortured poet. Jury’s distinctive tenor vocals serve to guide the whole affair — whispering the secrets, lifting to hope, diving to despair.
The album was recorded in two locations — New York City and North Carolina — each unique session giving the album a balanced delivery of Spector-esque wall-of-sound and an updated take on early ’70s R&B and soul. The backing chorus of singers and the brass from the North Carolina sessions add a lushness that recalls the best pre-disco sides from Memphis — Isaac Hayes and The Dramatics come to mind. Jury is a top-notch piano player who at times reminds me of Leon Russell and his swampy soul.
The latest single, “Beg & Crawl,” is an example of the brilliant arranging on the album. The descending, slightly slowing guitar riff before the verses and the glorious, triumphant blooming of horns and backing soul vocals at the chorus and the swirling effect on his voice at the bridge all add up to a song that should blast out of every radio this summer.
Max Jury has already started to gain visibility, having opened for Lana Del Rey and Rufus Wainwright on tour. His debut album will undoubtedly establish him as a peer among such unique artists.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 200.