You know those magical movie moments where a bunch of friends are sitting around a campfire on the beach, drinks in hand and hopes as high as the sun? One minute they are talking about their wildest dreams and the next minute they are smashing out some beautiful in-the-moment music. Everyone wants to experience it. Only a few will. But don’t you worry; Mumford & Sons’ latest record has got you all sorted.
The London quartet’s fifth EP to date and ninth release all up, Johannesburg is one big jam session. The five-track piece, written between shows in South Africa, features Senegalese singer, Baaba Maal, South African group Beatenberg and Londoners, The Very Best. Recorded over two full all-day and all-night studio sessions, the soulful live-sounding beats are unlike anything you’ve heard from Mumford & Sons before.
The EP kicks off with chart-topper, ‘There Will Be Time’, featuring harmonies from Baaba Maal. Instantly noticeable, the blend of Maal’s and Marcus Mumford’s vocal tones are perfectly contrasted. Singing, “I live to love and adore you, it’s all that I am, it’s all that I have”, the lead singer’s chorus is smoothly followed by a beautiful cannoned Senegalese performance; clapping and conga drumming are just two grooves placed throughout the arrangement that evokes a fun-filled dance break.
‘Wona Feat. Baaba Maal, The Very Best & Beatenberg’ brings the whole gang together and offers up one hell of a percussive dream. Opening up with a jumping-jack riff and a running drumbeat, the instrumentals on this one are astounding – not to mention the impressive vocal stylings. The four acts ultimately combine their best assets to create one hell of a dynamic track. Sounding like they’ve been working together for years, it’s hard to believe they recorded over two days.
As if lending their sound to their fellow musicians, ‘Fool You’ve Landed Feat. Baaba Maal, The Very Best & Beatenberg’ sees Mumford & Sons and Co. stripping it back to their original sound – but not for long – ‘Ngamila Feat. Baaba Maal & The Very Best’ taking listeners straight back to a South Africa. As usual, the two-varying tracks depict the sheer range of the Mumford’s sound, as well as their potential when it comes to collaboration.
‘Si Tu Veux Feat. Baaba Maal & The Very Best’ closes the EP, boldly and beautifully. All in all, if Johannesburg is a sneak preview of what’s to come for the next full-length Mumford & Sons album, then count me in!