Music Review: The Lumineers: New Narrative, Powerful, Insightful Album
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Friday September 13, 2019 (yes, Friday the 13th), The Lumineers released their third studio album, aptly titled “III”. The narrative-style album features the effects of addiction on members of the imaginary Sparks family. It’s beautiful, tragic and evocative, but we would expect nothing less from the group who gave us “Sleep on the Floor” and “Cleopatra”. The members of the group feel like they have “really hit [their] stride “with this latest album.
This album contains one of my favorite band trends: to revitalize previously presented lyrics. In this case, a particularly poetic lyric from “Sleep on the Floor” made its way into “Life in the City” as follows: “what if the sun doesn’t shine on me today, and if the subways flood and bridges are breaking, are you just gonna lie down and dig your grave? Or are you going to rail against the last day?
This spirit of resilience is found in many tracks on the album in a powerful and artful way. One of the most unique tracks and an undeniable personal favorite is “Jimmy Sparks”. It tells the story of Jimmy, a prison guard who earns minimum wage. He is a single father whose wife left him with their baby.
Desperately, in the middle of the night, he searches for money in an unsavory way, namely gambling. On his way home, Jimmy meets a hitchhiker he ignores because “it’s us or them”. Twenty years later, as his son is growing up, Jimmy is ambushed by loan sharks in search of repayment. The refrain is simply, “Oh my love, can you spare my blood? After being beaten, ransacked and threatened by the loan sharks, Jimmy walks away barefoot. His son unknowingly walks past his father, thinking he is just another hitchhiker. Remembering his father’s advice, he continues on his way.
This is easily one of the best stories in recently released music. The emotions of the story shine through the musical elements. The story itself is unique and concise. I won’t go into detail, but fans have tracked down every member of the imaginary Sparks family, which connects to past tracks from the albums I, II, III sequence.
“Jimmy Sparks” is one of my favorite tracks, not only from this album, but from all recently released albums. The story and music of the song are equally compelling.
Another of my favorite tracks is “It wasn’t easy being happy for you”. Such a relevant feeling. It is followed closely by “Left for Denver”, a song about abandonment and the paranoia that accompanies it. Honestly, every track on this album is worth a few deep, secluded and calm listenings.
If, for some incomprehensible reason, you’re not already a fan of The Lumineers, this powerful and insightful new album should do the trick.