Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More (2009): Review

mumford

Produced by Markus Dravs
Label – Island/Glassnote

Formed in 2007, West London four piece Mumford & Sons have moulded a full length debut that sounds incredibly mature, carefully tapping into an increased interest in acoustic music that combines traditional English folk with American influences such as Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Midlake. Their sound often develops from gentle soul filled strumming to frantic hoe downs with thumping rhythms, and fast paced banjo, ukulele, mandolin and guitar accompaniments. For an unplugged bunch, they make a lot of noise, and this will appeal to anyone who enjoys music that builds its intensity to powerful conclusions. Admittedly, there is a lack of dimension in the song writing at times, but any reservations are overcome with the alluring vibrancy of the performance. Marcus Mumford’s vocal is original if not spectacular, and his emotive stories of battling self doubt and failures past carry a heavy sincerity in the confessional that’s hard to resist.

mumford

The highlights are carefully stacked at the top of the recording with the first three foot stompers shamelessly pulling the listener into Mumford’s alluring world. The opener and title track “Sigh No More” is a rousing statement of faith in love as the singer belts out his optimism with the lines, “Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free.” The single and probably the most recognisable song from the album (“The Cave”) is a triumph in distilling a great melody that recalls many great acoustic bands from the past with a lyric that raises more questions than it answers as Mumford announces“But I will hold on hope, And I won’t let you choke, On the noose around your neck, And I’ll find strength in pain, And I will change my ways”. For this listener the outstanding moment comes with “Winter Winds”, which has the kind of anthemic gusto bands with half a dozen albums under their belt could never achieve. Indeed, one could easily be a little cynical of the confidence in their precocious skills were it not for the conviction of the performance.

An entrancing listen, “Sigh No More” is a more than striking debut from a band that sound like they’ve been producing classics for the past ten years and yet bizarrely it’s their debut.

8/10

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

Sigh No More

The Cave

Winter Winds

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2 responses to “Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More (2009): Review

  1. Ah, alas a band that I feel I could enjoy to a certain extent if not for their contrived ways throughout the band’s make-up. I mean, a bunch of London public-schoolboys trying to pull off heartland Irish-folk doesn’t quite wash with this observer! Maybe I’m too cynical for my own good, as when I have seen them on the television at festivals, it looks to be a good time, but are their fans listening to music of a similar ilk once the lights go up or once the (theoretical) needle bounces into the run-out grooves?

  2. To be honest I mostly agree with what you say and in reality they’re probably a band I wouldn’t normally like. I ventured into the album with no high expectations but what I did appreciate was the conviction, and compelling gusto they provide in every performance. So much folk is fey, wimpy and lacks bite. These guys bang it out with a carefree attitude that is at least refreshing.

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