Formed in England, Mumford and Sons have been around since 2007, but in 2010 they caught fire in the States. Marcus Mumford heads the four man band made up of guitar, upright bass, banjo, and keyboard. Mumford mans the kick drum when percussions are needed and occasionally makes an appearance behind a full drum set for certain songs.
After forming, they shaped a raw nugget of songs and hit the road. Driven by their love to play live and their love for the music that they played, the band captured the hearts of their audiences. Their harmonies coupled with the way the engaged their audiences, instruments and each other were the driving forces in their reception throughout England. Mumford is a true renaissance man, donning multiple instruments, singing, songwriting, all while emitting a unique eerie stage presence that grows as the show does.
It wasn’t until 2009 that the Sons recorded their first album Sigh No More. The album was named after the title track which references Shakespearean romantic language used in Much Ado About Nothing, with lyrics such as “Love it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you / It will set you free / Be more like the man you were made to be.” The album bounces back in forth between slower reflective songs and optimistic foot-stomping numbers. Of the latter, “Little Lion Man” has become the most popular and the staple of the album.
The best part about Mumford and Sons is that their songs build and culminate with an addicting combination of each instrument and voice on stage. Each song carries a message or story and the band plugs their instrument senseless for everyone. The lyrics are as heavy as stone, often dealing with religious undertones such as sin and grace. One of the best songs on the album, “Dustbowl Dance” brings the religious theme to a climax with Marcus screaming “’there will come a time when I will look in your eye/ You will pray to the god that you’ve always denied/ I’ll go out back and I’ll get my gun/ I’ll say you haven’t met me, I am the only son”. When played live this particular song finds Marcus behind the drum set. As the song builds, he changes from percussion mallet, to drum brush, to the basic drumstick.
2010 finds the Sons just wrapping up a full U.S. and international tour and teaming up with fellow folk artist Laura Marling, who has been linked romantically to Marcus. As recent as October, the band had been vocal about its aspirations to get back into the studio and get after the recording of their second album. Keyboardist Ben Lovett has been indicative of taking an approach of “tearing down” everything from the first album and starting from scratch. Marcus has also been vocal about fear of a backlash in that the original fans won’t like how the music will be getting played more publicly.
Mumford and Sons has been credited with the Folk Revival in the United Kingdom, but don’t tell them so. They tend to shy away from questions involving being influential. Their live reputation is what built them to this point and seems to be the recipe that will yield them many accolades for years to come, already having “Little Lion Man” voted number one by an unprecedented margin on the biggest music poll in the world, the Triple J hottest 100 countdown.
If it weren’t for their genre, this English folk rock band would take over the world.
By James Sobie