Mumford and Sons bring back the banjo on Delta

Folk band’s new album is a return to their roots

Image supplied by: Supplied via Flickr
The folk band's latest album came out last Friday.

Nine years since the release of their debut album, Mumford and Sons have returned to their roots.

Delta, released last Friday, delivers 14 tightly-written,  yearning-filled folk tracks. Each song is a unique, emotional build towards catharsis.

The hopeful undertones of Delta’s lyrics offer a more mature outlook on romance and relationships than any of the band’s previous albums. Compared to the agony expressed in their earlier music, the new album suggests frontman Marcus Mumford’s made peace with hisyouthful angst. 

After the band’s third album, Wilder Mind, failed to feature any of the band’s signature banjo, Delta gives it a triumphant return. 

It’s a return to their debut 2009 album Sigh No More, when the U.K. band exploded onto an already-crowded music scene. Sigh No More has sold over four million copies in the U.K., two million in the U.S, and nearly 200,000 records in Canada since its release. The band’s also been nominated for 18 Billboard Music Awards, along with 13 Grammy nominations—securing two—and countless other international awards. 

Mumford and Sons’ unique  sound has set a precedent for indie-folk, and the genre’s been at the forefront of trends for the past decade. After their headway, popular bands like The Lumineers and Hozier have carved their place in a pop-heavy music scene, echoing the success of Mumford and Sons.

Now, four studio albums later, the band’s had ample time to experiment with their sound.

Instrumentally, Mumford and Sons combined elements of all their previous works—slow strings arrangements, upbeat electronic backbeats, acoustic instruments—into what feels like the purest representation of what the band has to offer.

The fourth track on Delta, “Beloved,” opens on the band’s timeless banjo riff, coupled with painfully honest lyrics and the boom of Mumford’s voice. Over layers of acoustic guitar, steady percussion, and soft piano, the emotion of the song can’t be contained.

Standout track “Woman” is layered with background vocals that produce a haunting and hymnal sound. The tempo is slightly faster as Mumford tries to understand the woman he loves, singing, “I can’t read your mind / Though I’m trying all the time.” 

Delta’s interpretation of love is more hopeful than the band’s previous efforts. “The Wild” is a gentle love ballad, while the upbeat “Rose of Sharon” sees Mumford forcefully promise that, “So long as I have breath in my lungs / Long as there’s a song to be sung / I will be yours and you will be mine.”

In the title track “Delta”—the last on the album—Mumford finds reassurance in love “when it feels like nothing else matters.”  In a callback to the album’s first track, “Guiding Light,” Mumford croons, “[Because] even when there is no star in sight / You’ll always be my only guiding light.” 

By the end of the album, the listener glimpses Mumford’s view of love. In “Wild Heart,” he sings, “I wouldn’t have you any other way” before begging the question, “Who wants a love that makes sense, anyway?”

Whether Mumford’s love makes sense or not, Delta does. Whatever the band’s guiding light is, it’s succeeded in bringing them home to the folk identity where they belong.


Album review, folk, Mumford & Sons

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