It’s been about two months since a clergy friend of mine gave me his copy of Mumford & Sons debut album Sigh No More, and it’s been pretty much the only thing I’ve listened to since then. And whether you picked them up from DZ’s January playlist or picked them up on the radio, odds are you’re loving these guys too (they’re kinda breakin’ out here in the states, but you probably knew that already)! And Mockingbird readers, I am happy to report to you that in this album we find the ever elusive gospel in a world full of law. Yes, friends, we have found a positive example of grace in action!
Mumford & Sons come from the folk revival currently rocking jolly ol’ London town. For a band of Brits, they are really skilled at creating some of the best in American folk sound, specifically their Appalachian harmonies and banjo pickin’. Thematically, they also pick up on the major source of all folk music, which is the difficulty of human experience. And even though Christian spirituality has a long tradition of lending its vocabulary to folk music, Mumford & Sons take it the extra step and incorporate some of the best of Christian themes into their music too. The result is some of the best folk/bluegrass/rock music I’ve heard in a long time.
Take, for example, the following lyrics about grace from the track Roll Away Your Stone:
It seems that all my bridges have been burned
But you say ‘That’s exactly how this grace thing works’
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with the restart
Or take these lines about love and identity from the title track Sigh No More:
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
There is a design, an alignment, a cry
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be
And don’t worry, there’s plenty of law to go with that gospel too, like in their biggest single to date Little Lion Man, an aggressive, pounding, lament of regret and heartbreak:
Weep for yourself, my man, you’ll never be what is in your heart weep little lion man, you’re not as brave as you were at the start rate yourself and rake yourself, take all the courage you have left wasted on fixing all the problems that you made in your own head
The aptly titled album takes its name from Shakespeare’s play “Much Ado About Nothing,” where a frustrated lover sings of the flakiness of men and love, and how the only way to be happy and free is to acknowledge and love men in spite of their flakiness. It’s only after we come to this realization that we can find rest and sigh no more. Once we believe in the truth that we are loved in spite of our undeserving, and once we release ourselves and our loved ones from the burden of trying to earn that love, then that we find peace, healing and rest. This is, in total, what Mumford & Sons have done from beginning to end with their debut album.<
The bad news? They’re sold out for the rest of their current American tour, including two shows in NYC (and the Philly show I wanted to catch!). If you don’t have your tickets already, here’s a link to Amazon, or check out their music channel on youtube.