‘Growing up, I wanted to be a short story writer like Raymond Carver or something, so I’ve always approached song writing from a lyrical standpoint. I’ve always found song writing fascinating because a great song has the power to leave you completely heartbroken or completely overjoyed in like 2 minutes and 30 seconds which is crazy to me’.
Slouched in a train seat to Waterloo, skimming through the worn out and well-loved pages of NME and Mojo magazines, something occurs to me: Max Jury seems to be everywhere. With the former advertising his UK tour dates with the excitement of a toddler awaiting Christmas Day, and the latter dedicating a four-page spread to the Iowa singer-songwriter’s pacey rise in fame, Max Jury has been cemented with ease as one to watch with avid attention following his support of Lana Del Rey on tour, an artist with a truly fruitful future on the horizon. Regardless of how tonight’s gig transpires, his popularity amongst mainstream and counter culture listeners alike is certain. I suppose it’s just as well then that May 26th’s 100 Club performance was utterly mesmerising.
Opening with new single ‘Numb’, featured on the soundtrack to newly released tragi-rom com Me Before You, Max’s stage presence is one of infectious charisma, boyish charm and, most importantly, genuineness. His character is true, his lyrics are from the heart – At times, it’s easy to feel like you’re eavesdropping on a poetic private diary entry. Combining goose bump-forming nostalgia favourites ‘Great American Novel’ and ‘All I Want’ with avid head-swayers ‘Black Metal’ and ‘Beg & Crawl’, as well as material from his upcoming debut album, Jury crafts the concert like a pro, aware of the precise ups and downs needed to pluck an audience’s heart strings. Whether an audience member came with no knowledge of his discography or as an over-enthusiastic groupie, everybody loves him now.
The 100 Club feels like it was built for the Des Moines twenty-something: the intimacy of the underground venue collides with Jury’s personal and wandering minstrel-like tone (tracks like ‘Home’ have the ambience of a confessional ballad beside a camp fire), while the club’s punk heritage comes full circle with the irresistible vibe of ‘Standing On My Own’. Regardless of the superb quality of the lyrical mastery, the interiority and pain of the chords or that essence which you simply can’t put your finger on, it’s clear that Max enjoys performing – or at least shows it – far more than any act I’ve seen perform live. His humility and modesty, returning to perform a short encore following rapturous applause with the reaction “I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I’ll do one more”, is remarkable in relation to his talent, taking time to talk to fans, pose for selfies and sign merchandise post-show.
On the walk home, myself and my gig buddy try to pin down exactly what it is about his words, notes and atmospheric quality which make Max’s tunes so unique, yet quintessentially relatable. I’m originally from a small town Cornish village, with a population of more sheep than people, moving to “the big city” for an education and opportunity that my birthplace can’t provide. Equally, my friend comes from a corner of Wales untouched by civilised society. Max Jury’s tales of leaving the area he loves and the place he calls home, walking away from his foundations of love and friendships in the promise of fulfilling a dream are easy to recognise by audiences worldwide.
Max Jury’s UK tour dates have come to a close, the Iowan now en route to the Netherlands. However, Jury returns to British shores on July 22nd (Huntingdon), September 3rd (Brighton) and September 4th (Cambridge). His self-titled record is available for pre-order, its official release date falling in the next week.
Words by George Somers