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Marcus Mumford - (self-titled) (Album Review)

Friday, 16 September 2022 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Robin Harper

Marcus Mumford operates in a fairly unique space. As the frontman of (arguably) the biggest folk band in the world, he has professional success beyond most musicians’ dreams, and yet there is something quite brittle about Mumford & Sons.

Last year, banjo player and Mumford’s childhood friend Winston Marshall left the group after espousing some dubious political opinions on Twitter, and there is a distinct sense that the band are a bit of a guilty pleasure for people—as though you wouldn’t really want to admit to liking them.

The result, perhaps, is Mumford’s debut solo record. It’s 10 tracks of tender and heartfelt folk music, but here it is underscored by something quite distinct from the band.

The opener, Cannibal, details trauma from childhood abuse Mumford suffered around the age of six. It’s really good, expertly navigating big dynamic changes and telling a difficult story in a way that is both moving and exciting. It actually has some tonal similarities to Coldplay, but the seriousness of the subject matter moves it somewhere towards Tears for Fears.

The second track, which details the conversation Mumford had with his mother about the incident, is completely different. Grace is a country-adjacent track with a chunky rhythm section and wild, spiritual singing. There is humour and faith and excitement in this song—it is probably the album’s strongest and also the most divergent from Mumford’s signature sound, which is admittedly a moving target at this point.

Despite these stunning tracks, the record doesn’t maintain the standard, and it must be said that as a songwriter Mumford tends to have a dud or two in him. On ‘(self-titled)’ this drop off in quality is occasionally remedied with powerful collaborations. 

Monica Martin duets wonderfully on Go In Light and the closing track is a darling ballad with Brandi Carlile. This latter cut is a bit off-the-shelf in terms of Mumford’s de facto sound but it does hit its marks with distinction and doesn’t outstay its welcome. This record is a genuine example of artistic progression.

Marcus Mumford Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon November 14 2022 - SHEFFIELD Leadmill
Tue November 15 2022 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Wed November 16 2022 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Fri November 18 2022 - NORWICH Nick Rayns LCR
Sat November 19 2022 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Sun November 20 2022 - EXETER Great Hall
Mon November 21 2022 - CARDIFF Globe
Tue November 22 2022 - BRISTOL Marble Factory
Wed November 23 2022 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Thu November 24 2022 - LIVERPOOL Invisible Wind Factory
Fri November 25 2022 - GLASGOW SWG3 Studio Warehouse
Sat November 26 2022 - GLASGOW SWG3 TV Studio
Sun November 27 2022 - BELFAST Limelight 2
Mon November 28 2022 - DUBLIN 3Olympia Theatre
Thu December 01 2022 - KINGSTON UPON THAMES PRYZM Kingston
Sat December 03 2022 - BRIGHTON Brighton Chalk

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