Music Review: "Babel" by Mumford & Sons
The wait for the new Mumford & Sons album is finally over, and it was well worth it. I never thought I could love an album more than their previous one "Sigh No More" but this one might change that. A folk band from England, Mumford & Sons are extraordinarily talented musicians in every way. The sound that they produce from their instruments is unlike any I've ever heard. Rather than the typical setup in most bands, the members each play a variety of instruments, some at the same time. Marcus Mumford (vocals, guitar, drums, mandolin) has a voice so unique. I can't imagine a better union of music and vocals. He is able to evoke the honesty and vulnerabilities present in the lyrics in such a stirring way. He is truly a master as you watch him play guitar, sing, and use his foot to play the drums. Ben Lovett (vocals, keyboard, accordion, drums), "Country" Winston Marshall (vocals, banjo, dobro, guitar), and Ted Dwane (vocals, string bass, drums, guitar) round out the band, each a huge talent in their own right, even though Mumford is the most visible of the band due to being the lead vocalist.
When listening to this album, one thing becomes clear: these guys thoroughly enjoy playing these songs. Usually that type of joy doesn't come through as well on a studio album as it does on a live album. From the opening chords of the title track, the music pulls you in for a journey. Much like the roller coaster that is life, the listener is taken up and down and knocked around. There are times I laughed out loud in delight and other times when I could feel my heart swell in my chest.
One of my favorite songs on the album is "Below My Feet". I love a song that begins softly and builds to a crescendo. It begins with piano and soft vocals, harmonizing and humming as the sounds build and more instruments are added. "Keep the earth below my feet. From my sweat, my blood runs weak. Let me learn from where I have been." There is no way to listen without turning up the volume and singing along. I dare you.
Their arrangement of Paul Simon's "The Boxer" sounds like a completely different song. It's as if it was written for Marcus Mumford's voice and the bluegrass sounds of the band which complement the story of a young man coming face-to-face with the harsh realities of life.
On September 22, the band performed two of their new songs on Saturday Night Live. Unlike some of the bands I've seen lately, they not only sound good on a studio album, but they sound even better live. I think that is due to the fact that these young musicians are truly talented and good at what they do. Their love of the music and their ability to play so seamlessly together make them an absolute pleasure to watch.
You can download this extraordinary album on iTunes or pick it up in my Amazon store in the sidebar on the right.
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