“Roll away your stone, I’ll roll away mine”
It’s been a long time since I have been floored by a new album. There are few things more incredible and satisfying than that moment when, hearing the swirl of passionate chords and melodies, you realise you are listening to something truly magnificent.
As a youngster I would spend hours in Parrot Records in Basildon (now gone), flicking through the vinyl until something caught my eye. I would then race home to record it to cassette so I could play it though my headphones and drown in the sound and forget the sheer painful horror of school. Some nights I would jump on my bike and race down to Stringbean’s place and share the latest discovery I would jump on my bike and race down to Stringbean’s place and share the latest discovery over a game of Speedball on the Amiga (you still out there somewhere, mate?). All the rage and passion and anger and hope of growing up, refined in music.
And somehow, as the years pass, those moments become rarer.
I downloaded Mumford & Sons from Napster because I liked the snatch I heard on the television. Hauling myself into town earlier, I thought I would give them a listen. After four songs I went straight to the counter and bought it – even though I already had a download.
I felt I owed them.
With a sound that is Counting Crows meets Simon & Garfunkel meets The Jayhawks, with a dash of The Dubliners thrown in for good measure, their ability to soar from melancholy to riotous celebration and back again, the honesty in their sound and lyrics, and their relentless energy are the most refreshing things I’ve heard in years. Each song is a poem, reflecting on love, loss, faith or yearning, set to blindingly good tunes. Listening to Marcus Mumford’s aching vocals and you’ll be reminded of Adam Duritz and Paul Simon.
Today I was afforded a special gift: a chance to experience again that heady sense of discovery, depth of passion, tug of emotion, passion and rage that I felt as a youngster.