Stuff I Like; Mumford & Sons

Some time last year I think it was, my brother in law brought over a copy of Mumford & Sons’ album “Sigh No More” (released in 2009 in the UK, hit itunes in Feb. 2010, where they’re one of the best selling albums in Canada) for me to borrow thinking I might like it.  He was right.  In fact, it’s probably the best album I’ve heard in a long while.  If you haven’t heard of them already- I hope you like the shade of that rock you’ve been under- it’s musicianship of the highest class.  Part of the “new folk” scene of the UK, these guys play an exciting blend of folky bluegrass, alternative rock, with jazzy bits for good measure, in various tempos- complex without being inaccesible; like if Steep Canyon Rangers, R.E.M. and Dave Matthews were crammed together.  Cool Beans, as they say.  But this isn’t an album review forum.

One thing about Mumford & Sons that’s generated some discussion is the “spirituality” quite explicit in their lyrics.  While they seldom explicitly articulate a specifically Christian faith, the allusions to spiritual principles are hard to miss.  For instance, here’s some lyrics from “The Cave”:

It’s empty in the valley of your heart
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you’ve left behind

The harvest left no food for you to eat
You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
But I have seen the same
I know the shame in your defeat

But I will hold on hope
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again

Because I have other things to fill my time
You take what is yours and I’ll take mine
Now let me at the truth
Which will refresh my broken mind

So tie me to a post and block my ears
I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears

So come out of your cave walking on your hands
And see the world hanging upside down
You can understand dependence
When you know the maker’s land

So make your siren’s call
And sing all you want
I will not hear what you have to say

Because I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it’s meant to be

Or perhaps a slightly more clear indication, “Winter Winds”:

As the winter winds litter London with lonely hearts
Oh the warmth in your eyes swept me into your arms
Was it love or fear of the cold that led us through the night?
For every kiss your beauty trumped my doubt

And my head told my heart
“Let love grow”
But my heart told my head
“This time no
This time no”

We’ll be washed and buried one day my girl
And the time we were given will be left for the world
The flesh that lived and loved will be eaten by plague
So let the memories be good for those who stay

And my head told my heart
“Let love grow”
But my heart told my head
“This time no”
Yes, my heart told my head
“This time no
This time no”

Oh the shame that sent me off from the God that I once loved
Was the same that sent me into your arms
Oh and pestilence is won when you are lost and I am gone
And no hope, no hope will overcome

And if your strife strikes at your sleep
Remember spring swaps snow for leaves
You’ll be happy and wholesome again
When the city clears and sun ascends

This may not be explicitly “Christian”, but most of the songs on “Sigh No More” are along these lines- suggesting at the very least a consciousness aware of God.   But recently I read that frontman Marcus Mumford is the son of John and Eleanor Mumford, leaders of the Vineyard Churches in the UK, so he has that pedigree.  Also, I was directed to a poor quality, but enlightening and inspiring youtube post of Mumford & Sons performing the hymn “Come Now Fount of Every Blessing” at a live show.  The more I pay attention to these guys the more I like them.  They get some flack from a few Christian commentors because of the use of an expletive in “Little Lion Man”, but you can’t move forward into the culture without upsetting a few traditionalists- not that I condone profanity (I’ll post some thoughts on that later) but simply that sometimes being culturally relevant and culturally present will make some Christians uncomfortable.

Are Mumford & Sons a “Christian” band?  Can’t classify them as such.  Does that matter?  Honestly, probably not.  Music is one of those weird hot button issues for some Christians, who demand we only listen to “Christian” music.  But by that logic we should only eat “Christian food” and use “Christian computers” and play “Christian sports”, etc.  Why not listen a band that makes great music?  I may not have anything profound to say on the matter, but I think promoting general music and cultural appreciation regardless of spiritual content, is a worthwhile project.

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