My goodness, I am still trying to come to terms with this record. On first listen I wondered had I just fallen in with the NEXT BIG REVELATION! I had heard about these guys for some time and was frustrated that the album took so long. Then they did a gig here in Belfast and I got a significant amount of raving text messages. On first listen I started asking people was I bonkers or was this the next big thing? No one has disagreed and indeed many have said, “Even better than you think!” I heard the rustic bounce of what’s current, the deftly poetic writing of Dylan and the theological depth of U2. To seek their contemporaries it is America’s Fleet Foxes and England’s Noah and The Whale meeting on the island between them; there are hints of Irish folk and tinges of Glen Hansard’s The Frames.
The songwriting is quality and the lyrics are subtle and profound carriers of theological truth. The overall theme seems to be about making sense between humanity and God. The first lines of the album are “Serve God love me and men/
This is not the end/Lived unbruised we are friends/And I’m sorry.” There is a confessing of mankind’s weakness as in “man is a giddy thing” but a hopefulness that there is a love that can set the human being free, “Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you/It will set you free/Be more like the man you were made to be.” These last lines might be a prophetic provocation to the anti Jesus, more Pharisee-like version of love that has masqueraded with demonic effect in many a Christian Church. Mumford and Sons declare that the authentic love of God will be found where freedom results! And we are not even out of the first song, Sigh No More, yet!
Roll Away The Stone gives the album its anchoring doctrinal belief, “It seems that all my bridges have been burned/But you say 'That's exactly how this grace thing works/It's not the long walk home that will change this heart/But the welcome I receive with every start.” These lines made me literally jump on first listen. This is as succinct and poetic a theological pop song verse as Bono has ever tried to write. The rest of the album has lashings of love and hope without ever losing site of our human frailties. The ultimate aim is to find out what the Maker made us to be. We already saw that in Sigh No More. Here it is again in The Cave, “Cause I need freedom now/And I need to know how/To live my life as it's meant to be.” That keeps pointing back to the Maker whom we were made for (Awake My Soul) and whom we’ll find dependence in (The Cave).
It’s a soul stimulating beauty of a record and they tell me they are even better live. Are they the next big thing? Who knows but what a debut!