‘Utopian Dream’ is the second E.P. from Lurgan based band The Jury Disagree. These three chaps have been off the radar since their first E.P. ‘Black is the Beyond, Though Darker is a Day on Earth’ was released in September 2012 and clearly this time has been spent writing and honing their sound.
Formed in 2011 this acoustic band made up of two acoustic guitars and 3 part harmonies describe their music as grunge and yet folk, progressive and melodic. Quite tall and perhaps conflicting claims but the boys do not fail to deliver.
The opening track ‘Even Out’ signifies a departure from the feel of their first E.P. It’s clear to see that they have developed their songwriting from the wandering metal/rock structure to a more typical verse and chorus approach, something that lends itself really well to the strong lead vocal and great harmonies. The blend of their voices is one of those things you can’t teach or manipulate in a studio, it just happens, it’s that little bit of magic we all want from our music…and here it is!
‘Art of Concealment’ showcases the storytelling quality of their music with it’s wandering and airy feel. The intro to the song is a beauitful layering of harmonies that invites you in to listen, where they have you in the palm of their hand with the haunting and hypnotic repition of ‘trust in I’.
The fourth track is ‘Send Me On My Way’ and lets lead singer Peter Dawson show us the edgier side to his voice. This intially makes me think it should be more of a full band affair but then as the backing vocals kick in I realise that once again they have got it just right. It shows a great maturity and vision as songwriters, with a good sense of their identity to rein themselves in in this way, working to their strengths and those of the songs.
This more traditional and dare I say mainstream stucturing of songs is once again evident in ‘Big Sign’, the third track from ‘Utopian Dream’. The blend of guitars and interwoven lines perfectly compliment the melody and harmonies which are reminiscent of old folk songs, if a harpsichord came out to play I would be delighted, and not entirely surprised! For me this song sounds like the most developed of the E.P. and perhaps is an indication of where the band sees themselves going as they continue to write and record.
Clearly I am a fan of The Jury Disagree. They remind me of that golden age of MTV Unplugged where the best of Seattle talent took to those barstools to bring us classic performances. I can hear those sets from Alice In Chains and Peral Jam and other bands from the era such as Blind Melon and Soundgarden have influenced the guys in a big way. My one criticism may be that all the songs are quite long. However, ‘Big Sign’ is over six minutes and by far my favourite with it’s strong verse, chorus and harmonies. It takes quite a talent to write a song that hits 6.42 and makes the listener want to play it again, a talent these guys have in abundance.