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LIBERTY 'N JUSTICE - The Vow (2014)


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Today, Tuesday July 1st, LIBERTY N' JUSTICE is releasing they new and last ever album "The Vow".

 

This is it... the final curtain call for the melodic hard rock band founded by bass player and songwriter Justin Murr more than 20 years ago. Murr has stated that he is closing this chapter of his musical life with "The Vow".

 

In doing so, he is taking Liberty N' Justice back to where it came from, as a band, and not an all-star project, which is how the band gained its fame in the Rock community.

 

Sure, there are still some guest appearances, but the singers are there to add background vocals, not to be lead singers. Additionally, JK Northrup handles all of the guitars this time around, with Murr, Eric Ragno, and Michael Feighan also contributing all of their own individual instrumental performances.

The album kicks things off firing on all cylinders with "Forever Starts Tonight", featuring some amazing acapella layered vocals to intro the song and then powerful harmonies courtesy of Gunnar Nelson. If this opener is any indication of what's to come, it's apparent that the band plans to go down swinging with this record.

 

"For Sure Thing" backs off only slightly, with David Cagle's bluesier approach getting some vocal assistance from Baton Rouge's Kelly Keeling in the background.

As has always been the case, the focus is on the message with Liberty N Justice, and "The Vow" features some of the best material to ever come out of the LnJ camp. Nowhere is that more evident than on the painful lyrics of "Honeymoon Is Over" which just screams personal agony over a love lost and the regret that goes with realizing you are largely to blame. Great Cagle's vocals on this monster of a ballad.

 

Following this up is the the angry, edgy, slightly modern rock sounding "That's Gonna Leave A Mark" which has Northrup threatening to melt the strings from his guitar.

 

The more melodic, uptempo rockers "Gone" and "Every Night She Cries" reel things back into happier-sounding territory before the plaintive "Promises To God", which features some nice keyboard work from Ragno to compliment the emotive tenor of Cagle, rounds out this amazing five song arc.

 

Don't think that all is serious here, as the trademark Murr humor is still intact, and you need look no further than the next track, "Pucker Up" where Northrup rips another killer solo here.

 

"Sting Of Her Kiss" is a kick ass hard rocker, again featuring some absolutely meaty six-string work and some nice vocal support from Louis St. August of MASS fame.

 

As far as the rockers go, this is quite possibly the stand-out on the record, at least musically. Cathcy, hook-laden, guitar-driven, steering wheel-smacking hard rock music.

 

"Two Or More" is a fab ballad with a bluesy feel, then "Two Or More" pulls up the rock pulse again, followed by the commercial, poppy "Another Goodbye", before "Prince Charming In Disguise" closes things out with a somewhat trippy melody that sounds musically like something Enuff Z'Nuff might have tried during their career.

As far as the musicianship goes, things are in top-notch form throughout "The Vow".

 

One thing that is especially noticeable on this L N J 'band album' is the vocal strength of David Cagle, who was a relatively unknown session singer until Murr tapped him for several songs on the past couple records of the band. For fans of Guardian and AdrianGale, I dare say that there is a definite Jamie Rowe quality to the sound and style of Cagle, yet he is nowhere near to being a rip-off artist here.

 

Northrup is at the top of his game throughout and I again state without any reservation that he is one of the most under-appreciated guitar players in the hard rock genre. Feighan and Murr supply a solid and competent rhythm section that really should be given more credit than they likely will be. The same can be said for the uber-talented Ragno, who expertly uses his keyboards as complimentary instruments, rather than trying to dominate any single track.

If this is indeed the final chapter in the Liberty N' Justice book, it is a great way to close. Excellent songwriting, which has long been an L N' J trademark, abounds here, with solid performances all the way around. Like a favorite athlete, you don't want them to leave the game, but if they have to leave, you want your last memory to be a good one.

 

"The Vow" does that for Liberty N' Justice, a very solid final chapter in the 23 year musical legacy of Justin Murr's band.

 

Quite Recommended.


01. Forever Starts Tonight (featuring Gunnar Nelson of NELSON)
02. For Sure Thing (featuring Kelly Keeling of BATON ROUGE)
03. Honeymoon Is Over (featuring Richard Kendrick)
04. That's Gonna Leave A Mark
05. Gone
06. Every Night She Cries
07. Promises To God (featuring Fergie Frederiksen of TOTO)
08. Pucker Up (featuring Richard Kendrick)
09. Sting Of Her Kiss (featuring Louis St. August of MASS)
10. Two Or More
11. Another Goodbye
12. Prince Charming In Disguise (featuring Gunnar Nelson)

Justin Murr - Bass, Keyboards
JK Northrup - Guitars
David Cagle - Vocals
Eric Ragno - Keyboards
Michael Feighan - Drums

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Didn't realise this was their last disc. Anyone know why? I can't really see a reason in the above write-up?

 

Anyway, this is what it is, exactly what you expect from these guys. Good solid 70% range rock album. It's okay.

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Justin has been a bit cagey on this, saying things like all good things must come to an end etc, but will not out and out say why.

Its kinda weird timing seeing as they only really became a true band recently, rather than a revolving supergroup.

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