The Marcus Mumford of (self-titled) bears little resemblance to the version that exists on Mumford and Sons’ Sigh No More and Babel. Trading in raucous folk-rock for quieter introspective tracks, he discovers that he’s still a pretty good songwriter without the surrounding wall of sound. Here, Mumford’s songs feel more self-assured. He’s not rushing anything or incorporating noise for noise’s sake; the instrumentation works to further the writing and not swallow it whole.

Those looking for the signature Mumford crescendos will find a couple examples on “Cannibal” and “Stonecatcher,” but they are dressed in different sounds and are a bit softer. Transparent and largely unmasked, all the voices and parts remain mostly untouched in post production. Listeners will be able to hear amp pops and gentle distortion which creates a very pleasing sound—for those who like warm.

Stripped down and acoustic, “Only Child” is nice, if slow, but on “Prior Warning” and “Dangerous Game” it feels like the songs never really “happen.” Lyrically, topics of love lost and mourning pervade, and the writing is great, but can’t make up for the few tracks that lag behind the better cuts. A couple more “Stonecatchers” and another moment like the bridge on “Better Off High” and (self-titled) goes from a very good album to a great one.

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