Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More

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I rarely listen to the radio, for music anyway, so when I heard Mumford & Sons on the Grammys, I didn’t realize that they had released their nominated CD, “Sign No More,” one year earlier.  “Little Lion Man” was apparently a brief rage that I missed.

I liked their enthusiastic performance, though, and my wife was familiar with a couple of their songs… and it doesn’t take much to persuade me to try a new CD.

The band seems to be categorized as Brit-folk, in that they’re from England and they play instruments associated with traditional music, including banjo, dobro and mandolin.   That’s not to say that this is Appalachian music with an English accent.  Lead singer Marcus Mumford’s vocals don’t hint towards anywhere specifically.  His voice actually has a raw edge to it, that works well both in making whispered tones audible and in leading their rock tendencies.

What’s that?  Rock tendencies in Brit-folk?  Yes, many of the songs, particularly in the first half of the CD, break out in fits of aggressive attitude that is welcome to these ears.  Songs like the title track, “The Cave,” and “Roll Away Your Stone” keep the feet tapping.  Good stuff.

Now, what’s that he’s singing about?  First, Mumford is a good songwriter.  The inserted booklet includes all the lyrics, and the evidence is that much work went into the diction and the rhymes.  That’s a good thing.

“Little Lion Man” has drawn most of the attention for this band.  The lyric is someone obtuse but hints at understanding of always falling short of one’s potential, possibly father to son.  The chorus is catchy in tune, and earthy in it’s measure:

But it was not your fault but mine

It was your heart on the line

I really f*****d it up this time

Didn’t I, my dear

It’s a curious lyric for something that has received airplay and attention, and it’s even more surprising in context of the CD as a whole.

Those voting against assign poor marks for metaphysical overtones, which might be oppressive to those beset with a God problem.  It’s clear though, that Mumford is the one experiencing difficulties in faith.  The Christian hears themes of grace (“It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart, but the welcome I receive with the restart,” guilt and its barrier to reconciliation, failure to resist worldly temptations, the soul, and even judgment (“Because death is just so full, and man so small.  I’m scared of what’s behind, and what’s before.")

 

And all of this without claiming a verse.  The themes are observable to all who experience life, though, and most should be able to identify with the lyrics, should they pay attention.

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die

Where you invest your love, you invest your life.

Unfortunately, the second half of the CD, except for “Little Lion Man,” doesn’t sustain a musical interest and requires effort to keep attention, despite lyrics that are as carefully crafted and expressed.

Recommended Songs: “The Cave” and “Roll Away Your Stone”

3 of 5 STARS

1 comment :

  1. Gotta agree. Some good lyrics, but after the first half of the album unspools, the balance sounds the same. I really hate to say that given the effort they made on the lyrics, but it really begins to sound repetitive. 3 of 5 stars is equitable!

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