Sunday, August 29th, 2010
"Roll Away Your Stone"
Laura Marling covers Mumford & Sons
Frank YangI can’t count the number of times (okay, I suppose via a text search I could) I’ve looked back to the evening of October 4, 2008 and shaken my head at the quality of the bill that played the Rivoli that night. Amongst the van full of exhausted young British folk revivalists wrapping up a North American tour were Laura Marling, at the time the marquee name on the bill with having her debut Alas I Cannot Swim being shortlisted for a Mercury Prize, headliner Johnny Flynn riding a well-received debut of his own in A Larum and the third act on the bill were there as Marling’s backing band, but had a few songs of their own they wanted to show off – that was Mumford & Sons.
Fast-forward a couple of years – Flynn has a second album in Been Listening, though it still awaits a North American release. Marling has gone two-for-two in Mercury Prize nominations with this year’s I Speak Because I Can and already has a third album in the can. And the boys in Mumford & Sons? Even though they had nothing released at the time of that Rivoli show save for an impossible-to-find EP, their anthemic bluegrass-rock has clearly struck a chord as they’ve gone on to be bigger than either of their tourmates, at least on this side of the Atlantic, where they’ve gone from unheralded opener to filling venues the capacity of Toronto’s Sound Academy, as they’ll almost certainly do on November 13. And oh yeah, their debut Sigh No More is also up for a Mercury Prize, which will be awarded next Tuesday, September 7.
So if Marling was looking to give her bandmates a bit of a leg up in terms of exposure when she covered “Roll Away Your Stone” months and months in advance of Sigh No More‘s release when she played a World Cafe session for NPR… I’d say it worked.
The Independent talks to a number of this year’s Mercury nominees, including Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons about the honour.