Friday, October 10, 2014

ALBUM REVIEW: Lady Justice - Lady Justice

Lady Justice's self titled debut album opens with a simple eight note chunk that builds with each repetition, an analogy that hold true throughout the album. The quartet (Shane-Guitar, Sam-Bass, Drew-Drums, Jess-Vocals) plays with flowing melodies, flashy solos and jumps between varying genre influences with ease and pulls off a nearly impossible task: keeping this metal head interested for the entire duration of an alt-rock album. In fact, in my opinion, the album gets better the deeper into it you listen, and stays away from become another "default rock" album where every song is a repeat of the one before it.
Every time I restart the album, with tracks Futures and Blue Light put together as a single song, Jess' voice surprises. The minute long introduction leaves me with my head cocked like an RCA dog, waiting for what's next...

Jess' voice POPS from the speakers. I think I actually verbalized an "ooh". Pure, soft, delicate and sultry somehow all at once, her melodies stroll elegantly over Shane's picking, popping and even the occasional reggae-ish ba-bumping. In "All Or Nothing" Jess bounces with the guitar in a particularly tasty bite of ear candy before leading into a power chorus, complete with distortion and a level change. "All Or Nothing" also highlights a technique all often underutilized by musicians who haven't learned the lesson Less Is More. Or more elegantly, sometimes it's the notes you don't play that make the song. The repeating rests at the end of each bar add a just enough panache to make it interesting, but not distracting. 

"Drink It Down", the fist of two singles off "Lady Justice", didn't really jump out at me. It's not a bad song by any means, but certainly not one of my favorites. The structure just doesn't work all that well for me. It has the basic verse-pre chorus-chorus-repeat-bridge-solo-chorus that has become standardized song writing, which is all well and good (it's the standard for a reason), but the guitar seems a little wandery in the second verse, and the solo comes out disjointed from the rest of the song. At the same time, I like the individual separation between the instruments because it really allows the song to breath.... so if you don't mind I'm going to go to my corner and continue to have this cake while I eat it. 

"Crash And Burn" on the other hand, is a definite head bobber. Jess' vocals are absolutely dripping with attitude, You can almost hear her eyes rolling sarcastically. The song makes me want to get up from the laptop and dance around the house with a scarf while thoroughly enjoying the karmic revenge executed on the the idiots in my life. Was that weird? Yeah OK, that was weird. 

(Photo Courtesy of True Northwest Productions ) 

The albums ninth track, "Connect" sounds like it should be performed on a theater stage, integrated into the year's biggest musical. And I mean that in the nicest of ways. Yes I'm a metal head, but I'm also a sucker for good theater and as "Connect" plays you can almost see the dueting singers dancing down sidewalks, shuffling into alleys, hanging from the bottom rung of fire escapes and leaning back and forth flirtatiously. It has a fun, light hearted and upbeat feel without loosing the inherent sweetness within. 

Without a doubt, my personal favorite track is "Joke's On You", I found the opening riff incredibly catchy, and both the guitar and vocals transition into the chorus of the song seamlessly, pausing only to emphasize the title point - "Joke's On You". As the story of the song unfolds, with added exclamation points from drummer Drew, it leads to increasing urges to raise a fist and cry out "You Go Girl!"
"Joke's On You" - Acoustic Style

For a first release, this album is impressive. While I mentioned a few personal taste bugs, not one song turned me off. Every album has those one or two songs that you skip past every time, and I really didn't find any of those. I have my favorites, sure, but I also don't have any that I can't stand; a monstrous feat in the pleasure battle between me and the love/hate relationship I have with alt-rock. There were times I marveled at the writing, and times I thought they hit a clunker. Jess' voice impressed me, the richness in her tone is uncanny, but I also found myself lamenting that an opportunity was missed to do more with her vocals through doubling and/or layering. Maybe even add an effect here and there. The vocal purity shouldn't be sidelined in the least, it should be out front and center, but there are ways to take that purity and shine it up a bit more than it already is. Hopefully there will be a few more of those gems on the next release. 

RATING: B(uy It)
It's not going to blow your hair back or knock you out of your chair, but it's great to enjoy on a Sunday morning with that first cup of coffee. 

Lady Justice (Self Titled) can be purchased on iTunes

For More Information on Lady Justice visit their Website, Facebook, YouTube or ReverbNation pages. 

Also be sure to catch one of their Upcoming Shows. I have yet to have the pleasure, but I have a feeling Lady Justice is a hell of a performance. 

(Photo Courtesy of True Northwest Productions )