When I first sat down to listen to Mumford & Sons’ new album Delta, I was looking forward to the same folksy, harmonious anthems that I’d learned to expect from them. This album delivered exactly that, but in a deeper, more nuanced way that left me with a new appreciation for this foursome of Londoners.
Delta is the fourth studio album from Mumford & Sons. This British group is best known for their joyful, upbeat songs like “The Cave” and “I Will Wait.” A band with a philanthropic tilt, their latest tour includes another Gentleman of the Road initiative, this time in partnership with Deering Banjos. The banjos will be auctioned off during each leg of the tour, and the proceeds will be donated to local charities.
Gentleman of the Road is yet another way Mumford & Sons strive to deliver goodness and beauty to the world. Their music, or course, being the first. Delta brings more of the Mumford & Sons that we’ve come to love, but in a grander, more mature way.
There are many things that set this album apart, the first of which being the overall tone. The album evokes a feeling of being outdoors, in a wide and wild landscape. The classic Mumford harmonies are still there – but they are lighter, more ethereal, echoing through the album.
This album also features a few modern twists along with the folksy Mumford standbys. “The Wild” features orchestral, instrumental sounds that build on the almost soundtrack-like nature of the album while other tracks feature mellow more pop-like beats.
Classic Mumford & Sons songs play around with short melodies that build in both tempo and volume as they repeat, eventually culminating in the jubilant anthems we’ve come to know. This same approach is present in Delta, but in a more reserved way. Instead of being all-anthem, the album features slower, somber songs with a more pensive, even melancholic tilt.
The lyrics reinforce this change from anthem to atmospheric. The subject matter in Delta is overall more serious, and themes like uncertainty about the future and hopelessness are repeated throughout the album. Even the love songs take on a more serious, nuanced nature in Delta. Tracks like “Rose of Sharon” discuss love with uncertainty and dark times, rather than it existing apart from these realities.
While the album does touch on darker, more serious subjects, tracks like “Picture You” and “Guiding Light” tell us that there is a light in the darkness. The album is permeated by a sense of awe and a motif of guiding light. Should we find ourselves in a “night that bleeds into night,” we need only look up to witness awe-inspiring beauty around us. Maybe this source of light is a landscape like in “The Wild” or “October Sky,” or perhaps it’s another person as in “Rose of Sharon.” Delta promises us that there is a guiding light in dark times, if we’d only look for it. There is light in with the darkness, promising us that “the run will rise again” and “give us hope for the rest.”
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