By Mumford & Sons
The 'Laura Marling and Friends' concert at The Royal Festival Hall this last August was an important symbol in just how popular contemporary folk music is, how relevant people find it is to their lives, and how vast and talented the new generation of young British folk artists have proven themselves to be. Alessi's Arc, Peggy Sue and Sons of Noel and Adrian are all teetering on the brink of the kind of mass appeal that Laura Marling, Noah and The Whale, and, internationally speaking, Andrew Bird have managed to achieve. Mumford & Sons, (Marcus Mumford the genius at the reins) are the most immediately promising of this rich crop. There is something existentially, time-conqueringly appealing about harmonised voices, traditionally played string instruments, big marching drums and peculiar, heart-warming and heart-breaking tales put passionately to music. It is as if Mumford & Sons are tapping into a folk-sinew of the listener, drawing out the traditional roots somehow of love, life and experience.
'Sigh No More' is a strokingly tender, heart-on-a-sleeve, chantingly great album that swoons and caresses as much as it leaps and foot stomps. The band have perfected this water-tight formula of lulling the listener into songs with warm, sentimental, hard-hitting and intimate lyrics, slowly set to soft swaying strumming. Then, with the first verse and chorus having been delivered as such, you are suddenly awoken by a big stomping double bass and percussion bomb, which explodes and swirls you into a triumphant whirlpool of epic forces of sound that hammer down all around you before delivering you, dishevelled but exhilarated, into the safe flowing stream of the formerly gentle beginnings.
We see this time and again with the thumpingly brilliant title track, 'Sigh No More,' the anthemic and glorious 'Winter Winds' that frankly should replace 'Auld Lang Syne,' sung by jubilant drunkards at New Years Eve; and most tenderly and spookily in 'White Blank Page,' which is overflowing with such multifarious emotion, that it has you reaching for the tranquilisers by the time the creaking, aching voice of Marcus Mumford croaks out the immortally heart-torn-apart lines, "Tell me now where was my fault / In Loving you with my whole heart?"
This is an album of sun rays as much as it is an album of thunder storms. And this is exactly the point; this album is so poignant and powerful because it deals with extremes. Intense happiness and floor-hitting sadness are all captured here and wrapped in a musical bubble of enthralling melodrama that is hard to shake. You've got us hooked Mumford & Sons; do with us what you will.