Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
Published - October 2009
So, I'm back.
I'll let that sink in here for a minute before we get to the music.
I'm back, and I realized how much this got me through the first couple of months here in Korea, and how much I enjoyed the fits and starts in which I wrote a bunch of these. Actually, a respected blogger friend of mine (I mean a friend who I respect and writes a blog, not that his blog is widely respected, although it should be, like go read some of it now) asked me when it was going to return, after my enigmatic last post. So here I am, back at the computer, slamming out words about music again. I hope you're back too.
Here is the plan. 52 weeks in the year. 52 album projects. That is the bare minimum I will allow to happen. One a week is a pretty low number, to be sure. So if I can get more, I will. What does this mean for you? Every seven days, I'll come up with a new one. These will all be suggestions from other people. This makes my job easier, because that leaves time open for everything else I want to write just for myself, and allows me to go back and do classics and stuff on my own terms. So, I've got my list started, and of course, if you have more suggestions, send them to me. I'll try to keep everyone updated with what is coming up soon, and what I think I'll be writing about next. Hopefully, we'll end up with something more like 100 album projects, but of course, that depends on one thing. Me. The unreliable as far person. I'm working on this though. So, hopefully for the next year, until next Christmas at least, some album will be talked about, at great length, by me.
Speaking of which, let's get to this weeks album. Sigh No More was suggested to me by two different people. So, I'd like to thank Mr. Grant Hamming and Ms. Rachel Nusbaum, for the suggestion.
I don't know if I have a lot to say about this album. This is not for any other reason than it appeals to me on a visceral level, where I really enjoyed every part of it separately, and I loved the whole, but it didn't really make me have a strong opinion about it. It was consistently good, enjoyable, and made me really fall for the depth of it.
The wikipedia would lead you to believe that this is a "freak folk" album. I don't understand what that means. This actually just sounds like a modern folk album to me. If Bob Dylan had been born in the early 80's and had nearly the same life, I think this is what his music would sound like, with a bit different vocals, and more incomprehensible lyrics.
Talking about the lyrics, they are beautiful. It's an incredibly moving album, you feel the things that they are singing, and the depth of the vocals is very impressive. The lead singer is frequently backed up by what sounds like a half a dozen singers. The lyrics are clear, defined, and sound like hooks to me. This is folk at it's best, where it conjures up a small, dusty, packed room, with the group singing to a group of people, ready to seize the song and sing back to them. Their music is incredibly close to you. You feel as if it is surrounding you and permeating you. It's darkly toned, and soars when it should.
I think that is why I reject the "freak folk" label, it's just too good as genuine folk. They aren't commenting on it, they aren't satirizing it, and they aren't using it in any way other than as a the formula from which the music comes. The modernity could be lost if it were recorded on ancient equipment, and if they cut out some of the layering, but to do that would be to lose the thought and what seems to be important to the band. They seem to be inspired by the ideas of folk, and they took them to the logical next step, a place with soaring vocals and more instruments than just a banjo, guitar and bass. To make them out to be avant guard is to reject Bob Dylan once he went electric. It's not against the grain of the music that was being performed, it is to constantly be trying to update, to become a better musician, and express the thoughts that 'are' to that group, at that time is the next step for this particular group.
Now, this is another album that will completely turn people off, because it is niche in the extreme. If you don't like mountain folky sounding music, you probably won't get enamored of this album. If you are looking for something uplifting, I'd listen to particular tracks, but overall, you won't be uplifted by this.
However, if you are down, and want to hear moments of brightness against a background of melecholy, or if you want to hear something beautiful, and yes, a little hipsteresque, you should pick this up. If you wanted to just look at a couple of the songs, to see if you would like it, I'd suggest you listen to Dustbowl Dance, which is just an incredible song. The album sounds very similar from song to song, which is not a criticism, but more that it paints a portrait of the band in its time. It sounds like a complete album.
Anyway, let me say thanks again to Rachel and Grant, two incredibly cool people on opposite sides of the world. I hope that each of you are doing well in your respective positions. I'd like to hear more from you two about what this album did for you, because I'm still working on it, but I really enjoyed it.
I am the very model of a modern major general,
Oh hey, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all that stuff too.
PPS. Next week, Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs - Andrew Bird