Album Review: Mumford and Sons "Sigh No More"

Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More

Picture this: an masse barn dance, where sun-kissed festival goers triumphantly toast strangers and sing together in boisterous unison, members of the crowd hand-clap and toe-tap in ardent delight, some dance barefoot in graceful circles with their hands in the air, others pound the earth in well worn gumboots, whilst their associates play air banjo and accompanying imaginary tambourines with flair and fervour. The sun is setting and the cider is sweet. The music: magical. This, my friends, is the sound of Mumford and Sons.

Bound by their shared obsession with bluegrass, country and folk, the foursome started to bring front man Marcus Mumford’s early attempts at song writing to life back in 2007. A mere six months after their union, the talented West London quartet were playing to sell out crowds in the capital city, gaining disciples whilst touring around Britain, and preaching to the masses from the Glastonbury stage. It’s no wonder then that the clever London lads caught the eye of producer extraordinaire, Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire, Bjork, The Maccabees ring any bells?). Four weeks of experimentation with Eastcote Studios vintage equipment, ongoing encouragement to enhance their distinct musical identity (“he just wanted us just to sound like us”) and fine tuning (pun intended) and it arrived: Mumford and Sons’ debut album, Sigh No More.

The twelve tracks, characterised by powerful vocal harmonies, driving bass lines and potent crescendos is a feast to the folk lover’s ears. Comparisons to The Fleet Foxes, Noah and The Whale, and Crosby Stills and Nash are a plenty, but the artists’ attempts to create their own brand of folk-rock appear to have succeeded. And whilst the artful composition and resplendent meeting of strong vocals and interesting instruments (including mandolin, banjo, brass and double bass) may be the makings of a good hand, the winning ace is surely to be found in Mumford’s poignant prose.

The lyrics have been crafted to be clearly heard and they are never in danger of being lost amidst the musical mountains and valleys present in each track – vocals intensified by faultless harmonies ring out above the colourful ensemble. The band pay homage to fellow countryman Will Shakespeare in the title track, quoting Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing: Serve God, love me and mend, followed by an insight that could have been uttered by the man himself: Love - it will not betray,dismay or enslave you it will set you free. Melancholic yet uplifting lyrics flourish in virtually every track, from Winter Winds (The flesh that lived and loved will be eaten by plague / So let the memories be good for those who stay) to Timshel (And death is at your doorstep / And it will steal your innocence / But it will not steal your substance / As brothers we will stand and we'll hold your hand). See what I mean?!

So put it on and turn it up, grab your makeshift tambourine and sing and stomp along with the rest of them. You’ll enjoy it, trust me. This truly is music to awaken your soul.

  1. Sigh No More
  2. The Cave
  3. Winter Winds
  4. Roll Away Your Stone
  5. White Blank Page
  6. I Gave You All
  7. Little Lion Man
  8. Timshel
  9. Thistle & Weeds
  10. Awake My Soul
  11. Dust bowl Dance
  12. After the Storm 

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