Imagine walking along the River Thames in central London to find an impromptu live set by one of the biggest bands of the last decade.
This was the case for some lucky passersby on September 20 this year, when Mumford & Sons were recording the music video for their new song Guiding Light—one of the fourteen songs on Delta, their new album which is set to be released on November 16.
Their new album takes the old banjo-style rifts from their first two albums—Sigh No More and Babel—and mixes it with the new alt-rock guitar music from their 2015 Wilder Mind album to create something pretty spectacular.
Produced by Paul Epworth, who helped create beats for the likes of Coldplay, Sam Smith, Adele, and Florence + The Machine, Delta is comprised of the perfect mix of old, new, and extraordinary, with Epworth adding the perfect flare to an album set for success.
Following the criticism from their last album three and a half years ago, Mumford & Sons deliberately took the time to produce something just as radical, but far more impressive.
“What we needed was a good album, not a fast album,” stated lead singer Marcus Mumford.
The album was recorded at the Church Studios in London.
The band began with 35 songs for the album, and managed to narrow this down to just 14 with the help of Epworth. Through the time spent producing this album, the band has been touched by what one of their songs describes as “the world and its curse”.
From death, to depression, and divorce, Mumford & Sons have rallied around each other through it all. This sense of maturity is felt through their new music as the band introduces new textures and sounds while bringing back the banjo in creative ways.
“Almost every song has a banjo in it, but there’s only a couple of songs where you’d say, ‘oh, that’s a banjo,’” said Mumford.
And that is exactly what the band were wanting to achieve—innovation doesn’t come easy, but it is rewarding. The album begins with 42, a track with an element of mystery, followed by the already-released Guiding Light. It took the quartet over a year to get the idea for this song to work sonically. It’s a classic Mumford—full of harmonies, powerfully strummed guitars and the gradual increase of loudness before exploding into the chorus time-after-time. This song offers comfort in crisis, with the continuous transitions from darkness to lightness in lines such as “I know that you will claim that you’re alright… but fix your eyes on me … and I swear you’ll see the dawn again.”
Next up on the album is Woman, a cover of the original by Hall and Oates. Beginning with Mumford’s deep and quirky voice, this love song quickly transforms into a sparse, semi-electronic track.
Beloved came together under Epworth’s guidance. It is a very rhythmical song, which is a trademark of Epworth, and the underlying direction for this album.
Mumford & Sons saw an opportunity to stretch their legs with the track, The Wild. This sonically orchestrated tune came to life with the help of Sally Herbert.
Further into the album is one of my personal favourites—October Skies. This electrifying ballad sends shivers down the spine. Despite being one of the first songs planned for their new album, the track didn’t come together until it was brought into the room at the Church with Epworth. This epic track features backing vocals by Yebba, who smashed her part in just one day.
While in the courting phase with their producer, the song Slip Away became a turning point for the band since it was the moment they realised they wanted to create their whole album with Epworth.
The next track of the album, Rose of Sharon, features a bit more of a hip-hop vibe, which may get people talking. However, the Mumford boys believe this “deep groove” is the perfect song to dance to, and I must admit, I got my groove on while listening to it.
Picture You is a track that people may not expect from this quartet. It is sonically different from previously released tracks, but is the perfect statement to compliment this new album.
Towards the end of the album, Darkness Visible is described by lead singer Marcus Mumford as “a bit of nightmare”, but one that they like—and I must agree, I like it too. This track features something a bit different, with some spoken word content produced by Gill Landry.
The next track on the album features a string orchestra used perfectly to add cinematic flourishes, making If I Say one of my personal favourites from this awesome new album.
The old ways of Mumford and Sons can be felt through the track Wild Heart, which uses some of the instrumentations from their first two albums to create the perfect acoustic-chill track.
Forever, aptly, took the band forever to record. With over one hundred versions of this song, the band says the final is one they are very proud of. This track has been in their stash of songs for over five years—and boy, am I glad that it has finally been released. This song would have to be my number one for the album.
Last, but not least: Delta. The song the album was named after. Ending on a high, this track was formed from two songs that were merged into one to create the perfect finishing touch to this incredible album.
The name for their fourth album comes from the concept of the River Delta—and how the oceans and rivers interact.
“The river is the gateway between the tranquillity and safety of the river and the wild unknown of the ocean,” says Ben Lovett, Mumford’s keyboard player.
“So that ties into a lot of the lyrics—that transitional thing of facing up to life.”
Another aspect of the name choice comes from Delta being the fourth letter in the phonetic and Greek alphabet—with this being their fourth album.
“A lot of bands’ fourth records are the ones that define them, and I feel like this could be the one that defines us,” says Lovett.
The tour for their new album kicks off in Dublin on the November 16 this year, with the band expected to play to over 820,000 fans across the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
Lucky for us Aussies, the Australian tour commences in early January next year, giving us plenty of time to learn the words to their new songs—ready to belt out every chorus with them.
The first stop of the Australian tour is set to be at the Entertainment Centre in Brisbane, on January 15—just in time to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the bands debut album, Sigh No More.
Delta is a touching collection of songs, both lyrically and musically more intimate than Mumford & Sons previous albums—soft and thoughtful, yet joined with ecstatic dynamics. For me, this is their best work yet.
Mumford & Sons are Ben Lovett, Marcus Mumford, Ted Dwane, and Winston Marshall.
Mumford & Sons 2019 Australian tour dates:
January 15: Entertainment Centre, Brisbane
January 18: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney
January 22: Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne (SOLD OUT)
January 23: Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne (NEW SHOW ADDED)
January 24: Entertainment Centre, Adelaide
January 27: RAC Arena, Perth
You can get your tickets here.