A Fall Journey: Mumford’s “Babel” Kicks Off Autumn

The new album by Mumford & Sons, “Babel,” can be played on a loop while traveling down a tree-outlined road with colorful leaves falling all around.

It’s the first impression I got when the new single “I Will Wait” was released and it’s the same impression I got throughout the whole album.

The new album released today in much of Europe, will release next Monday, September 24 in the United Kingdom, and on Tuesday the 25th here in the States.

A problem with Mumford’s first album, “Sigh No More,” was that the whole album tended to blend together, leaving the listener wondering if anything stood out at them. Don’t get me wrong, “The Cave” was a smash hit single and “Little Lion Man,” “Awake My Soul,” and “Roll Away Your Stone,” absolutely moved and captivated a bunch of new Mumford and folk fans.

But on Babel, Marcus Mumford’s writing changed, like the leaves do. The music remains upbeat and fun. The lyrics really capture the imagination of the listener and it takes you on a journey.

Perhaps I’ve been rambling so far, and I’m not making any sense. That’s the beauty of folk: it leaves you without the ability to truly label it. It’s pure, fresh and keeps you coming back for more.

There are so many nuances in the music of Babel, which perfectly fits as the title of the album. This is an album I will keep coming back to, hoping to hear something new that I didn’t pick up before, or maybe a lyric to define an emotion.

Two weeks after another of folk’s giants, The Avett Brothers, released their album “The Carenter,” Mumford will compete with the veteran Avett’s for best folk album of 2012. And don’t forget the magic of The Lumineers’ debut, self-titled album.

Much like on Sigh No More, Winston Marshall’s banjo playing rings through the entire album, especially on the single I Will Wait and “Whispers In the Dark.”

Marshall’s banjo playing also adds depth to the album’s best song, and Mumford’s best lyrics in “Ghosts That We Knew.”

Also like the first album, Ben Lovett’s drumming is similar. His foot-stomping rhythms drive the albums faster songs, and his playing on the piano and accordion add depth to the slower songs

Other standout songs in these early listenings include “Lover’s Eyes,” “Hopeless Wanderer,” “Broken Clown,” and the song that really inspired the fall theme in my review, “Holland Road.”

Mumford has turned his small British quartet into a giant these past three years, being nominated for six Grammy’s — two in 2011 (best new band, best rock song) and four in 2012, all for The Cave.

Babel is a fantastic second album for Mumford & Sons, and will grow to be an even bigger success than Sigh No More. It already musically is better.

BONUS — The deluxe version of the album features three more songs, including a cover of Paul Simon’s “The Boxer.” It’s an absolutely perfect cover for Mumford to pull off and worth the extra bucks for the deluxe version alone.

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