Up until recent, Mumford & Sons has been that still, crystal clear water. After their recent touring stints, people have taken to the band so that they’re starting to take their course into the currents of music. The London-based folk and bluegrass outfit, briefly, is on the heels of other burgeoning folk talent coming out of the United Kingdom. Thankfully I was lucky enough to catch their set earlier this year (review below) when they landed upon the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago.
Their second in a series of EPs begins with a reconditioned “Little Lion Man” over an earlier version. Profound string bass notes land early on, accompanied by instead of accompanying for an acoustic guitar, before the banjo works on the other end of the spectrum. Truly, it’s full folk music that pulls heavy emphasis from the guitar and spreads it evenly amongst other instruments. But the charm of the song doesn’t lie in the music, rather the lyrics that build into an incredible full-band chorus towards the end. “But it was not your fault but mine. And it was your heart on the line. I really fucked it up this time-didn’t I my dear?” The collective voices work as strongly as the musicianship behind them, a rare feat in music.
“Hold On To What You Believe” takes a musically darker tone while retaining slivers of hopefulness. With muffled percussion pounding away as a distant organ churns, the lyrics cast a foreboding shadow over the song. “I can’t promise you that I won’t let you down. And I, can’t promise you that I will be the only one around, when your hope falls down. But we’re young, open flowers in the windy fields of this war-torn world. And love, the city breeds the plague of loving things more than, the Creator.”Track 4: The Banjolin Song (BalconyTV.ie)
But the genius of Marcus and Co. is their innate ability to balance the opposing spheres. On the heels of the sullen former track, “The Banjolin Song” has been reworked slightly into a gorgeous, more engaging track. Plucks of the banjo, egg shakes, and the fireplace-warm standup bass is punctuated by the atmospheric sounds of conversation and clinks of glass. It’s heavily polished, but in a way that draws the listener to that empty spot on the table while the folk band plays away the night. The only criticism, a minor detail at that, is the lack of a building flow that the debut had track-to-track is missing due to “Hold On To What You Believe”. However, that song pulls the band into a different, welcomed territory instead.
It’s that polish that is refined from their previous, self-titled or Chess Club Records released EP. They’ve improved in the studio, adding noticeable and subtle touches that add depth to Love Your Ground. If you’re looking to start off with Mumford, start here-then work backwards. You won’t be disappointed.