Drop Mumford & Sons in favor of Phosphorescent, Jeff Tweedy
Mumford & Sons — ‘Delta’
THE GOOD: Meh…
THE BAD: Keep going…
THE NITTY GRITTY: British folk rock group Mumford & Sons further ditches the “folk” on its fourth album, which means a once sort-of forgettable group that at least SOUNDED unique — because of copious amounts of acoustic guitars, mandolins and banjos — now comes off as even LESS distinct and MORE forgettable. My only reaction to “Delta” is an overwhelming sense of indifference. That, and the fact that 62 minutes is FAR TOO MUCH Mumford & Sons for one sitting.
Seriously. Listen to “Delta” and you’d swear these guys want to be Coldplay. Tracks such as the cool and calculated lead single “Guiding Light” and syrupy sweet sing-along “Forever” try to be so pleasant and predictable, they immediately get sucked into the background, never demanding your attention again.
So I guess if you actually dig the banality of adult contemporary radio (not too hard, not to soft — the perfect mix for your office), “Delta” is the record for you.
BUY IT?: Probably not.
Phosphorescent — ‘C’est La Vie’
THE GOOD: Singer-songwriter Matthew Houck (stage name Phosphorescent) moves from Brooklyn to Nashville and releases his seventh studio effort (and first in half a decade).
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: There’s a sense of “calm” permeating most of “C’est La Vie.” The lead single “New Birth in New England” is breezy and bouncy enough to qualify as a catchy Dawes track or left-of-center Jimmy Buffet tribute tune. And while nothing else on the record sounds quite THAT joyous, the album still can’t shake its feel-good vibe (not a bad thing).
Houck has done the folk-rock, semi-anonymous, singer-songwriter thing since the turn of the century. “C’est La Vie” doesn’t completely shake up that formula, but the move down south with all those pedal steel guitars definitely adds different colors to this musical palette. And those seeking something more heady will appreciate extended bits such as “Around the Horn,” a song resembling Tame Impala’s more accessible space-rock, or the swirling, hypnotic, instrumental “Black Waves/Silver Moon.”
BUY IT?: Yes.
Jeff Tweedy — ‘Warm’
THE GOOD: Singer-songwriter and indie legend Jeff Tweedy releases his second solo album.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The ex-member of Uncle Tupelo and current Wilco frontman gave us his first solo record, “Together at Last,” in 2017. It was an album that saw the man reacquainted with past Wilco tunes in an acoustic setting. “Warm” is different. This record’s material is all new; the work serves as a companion piece to Tweedy’s recently published memoir, “Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back).”
So “Warm” is a deeply personal album, exploring many of the same topics the book does (music, fatherhood, rehab, etc.). And even though this is not a strictly acoustic collection, there’s an intimacy and closeness that runs much deeper here than on any Wilco set. Tweedy also makes the songs spontaneous. Tracks such as “Don’t Forget” and “Let’s Go Rain” are very “in the moment,” with loose jams fast or slow, delicate or forceful. You’re getting to know a guy you thought you knew for decades.
BUY IT?: Yes.