Des Moines’ Max Jury returns with soulful sound11/30/2016
Max Jury, 24, released his eponymous debut album in June and spent the summer on the European festival circuit, playing Vestrock in the Netherlands, A Summer’s Tale in Germany, Montreux in Switzerland and many others.
This month he returns to his hometown for a show at Wooly’s, with Dustin Smith opening. Despite his festival experience, this is the kind of venue to catch Max Jury in.
“Festivals are tricky sometimes. They might not be the ideal place to see an artist like me,” Jury said during a phone interview. “But I know they’re an important place to introduce people to music. I’ve been touring with a different band and two backup singers, which lets me up the energy of the live shows a bit. This has been my first summer of playing festivals, and I got to meet a lot of artists I really like.”
“Max Jury” is the culmination of more than two years of hard work for Jury. During that time, he released two EPs and worked on his sound. While getting started in Des Moines, Jury had a Gram Parsons country singer-songwriter sound. That’s still present on songs like “Ella’s Moonshine” and “Dream,” but there’s also more soul and gospel than Des Moines fans might remember.
“Unfortunately, before, I didn’t know where to go or have the resources to incorporate that into my sound,” Jury said. “On the record, there are a wider variety of styles and tempos. I didn’t necessarily want to get away from piano ballads, but I wanted there to be other things that showcase what I’m into.
The opening track, “Numb,” best captures the gospel influence Jury was looking for. He started collaborating with Jackson Russell, a church music director he found on YouTube. The result is gospel elements that don’t sound fake or forced.
Then there’s “Beg & Crawl,” probably the most pop-sounding track on “Max Jury.” But strip it down to a guitar and Jury’s voice, and it still fits into Jury’s style.
The album still has its Des Moines connections. Logan Christian of Midday Studios mastered “Home,” which also contains strings by Patrick Riley and drums by Scott Yoshimura of Canby/The Envy Corps.
Jury was also recently heard on Christopher the Conquered’s latest single, “Mama, I Wanna Be James Brown,” singing backup and playing guitar. In October, he performed at Austin City Limits, as well as playing fall shows in Europe (along with an October show in Ames) all while living in London. He expects to start work on a second album soon and may be moving back to the U.S. to do so.
“It felt amazing getting the first album out, and in a sense it was a relief,” Jury said. “It felt like a big step for me. In a way, it was like the training wheels are off.” ♦