After a recent tour in South Africa, British band Mumford & Sons released a collaborative EP featuring Senegalese legend Baaba Maal, The Very Best and Beatenberg on June 17. Although no one’s talking about it, this album deserves to be heard.
This mini-album features five songs:
- "There Will Be Time" with Baaba Maal
- "Wona" with Baaba Maal, The Very Best and Beatenberg
- "Fool You’ve Landed" with The Very Best and Beatenberg
- "Ngmalia" with Baaba Maal and The Very Best
- "Si Tu Veux" with Baaba Maal and The Very Best
This new album sounds different than the original M&S music we listened to in “Little Lion Man” or “The Cave” as these songs are led by Baaba Maal and his African rhythms. What’s even better is that Maal’s native language, Pulaar, drives the lyrics of the album. This crossbreed of cultures and language creates a new and exciting sound, different from anything else on the radio; however, Maal isn’t a new artist.
Baaba Maal was born in Podor, Senegal, Africa in 1953 and from there studied music from his mother and school teacher. His lifelong friend and blind guitarist, Mansour Seck, also influenced him greatly in music. He studied music in Dakar and then went on for postgraduate studies on a scholarship at Beaux-Arts in Paris. Throughout the past three decades, Maal released almost twenty albums while being featured on three others.
Mumford & Sons toured in Africa and found this new sound which led them to Maal. That’s where they wrote their first song together, “There Will Be Time.” Afterwards, they worked on the next four. Their music is sweeping the globe as they are traveling on their Gentlemen of the Road tour. This tour began in 2009 and is a great financial initiative for the band to be found in places not normally toured by bands in efforts to bring business.
The Very Best is a London-based band mixed with traditional Malawi music which started in 2008. Their members include Esau Mwamwaya, Etienne Tron and Johan Karlberg. Their critically acclaimed free mixtape featured big artists like M.I.A. and Vampire Weekend. Their songs were sung in Chichewa, the national language of Malawi. Beatenburg is a South African based band who also began in 2008. Members include Matthew Field, Robin Brink and Ross Dorkin.
Although reviews are all across the board from appreciating their new sound to criticizing them for changing it, the argument can be made that this mini-album is just what listeners needed, before they even knew they were missing something. This new sound is a blend of African rhythms and the traditional indie music, but what I love the most about these five tracks is that they leave me wanting more. The blending of languages between the verses is magnificent and shows that through music there are no barriers: even if you aren’t fluent in a language you can still be carried away by the transcending sound of an artist. And that’s just what Mumford & Sons proves yet again in this overlooked album.
Check out this album on Spotify and iTunes along with their newest album, "Wilder Mind."