For any artist, it’s surely a little bit nerve-racking to put something you made out into the world. For Judah & the Lion‘s Judah Akers, he certainly felt that way and then some in releasing the band’s latest album, The Process.

“I think it’s probably maybe the scariest record that we’ve put out, just because it’s pretty raw as far as the lyrics go,” Akers tells ABC Audio. “It’s about heartbreak, it’s about going through my divorce.”

To tell that story, Akers and his bandmate, mandolinist Brian Macdonald, decided to structure The Process around the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. In reaching acceptance, The Process ultimately ends with a message of hope and optimism — something that Akers and Macdonald always hopes their music provides — while also acknowledging the pain the pair went and continues to go through.

“True acceptance is not saying that everything’s great,” Akers says. “That’s just not true. It’s being able to say, ‘This really sucks, but I’m able to move forward, regardless.’”

The acceptance section of The Process includes the album’s current single, “Long Dark Night,” which Macdonald feels represents both that stage and the journey he and Akers took to get there.

“The lyrics are actually a little bit dark if you really read ’em, but the song feels really positive and hopeful,” Macdonald says. “I think that’s kind of the paradox that we learned and understand through going through the process of grief, and hope that people can feel seen by that.”

The Process is out now. Judah & the Lion will launch a U.S. tour in October.

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