Famous for their upbeat singles like “Ho Hey” “Stubborn Love” and “Ophelia” The Lumineers takes on a different path with III. They do however continue to create powerful stories building off of simplicity and using each instrument to its fullest potential.
Despite being a strongly emotionally charged album, The Lumineers allow these emotions to be expressed through simple melodies that let the lyrics make the impact or upbeat choruses that let you dance to the somber stories behind the music. Like its own story with phases in the plot, every three songs focus on a main character – not including the bonus songs.
The album begins with “Donna” as if an old memory box is opened in a movie and plays a hauntingly beautiful tune. The haunting melody precedes the story and the creek of the piano pedal adds authenticity to the rustic nature.
As the third song, “Gloria” closes the first chapter focusing on her struggle with alcoholism and how “no one said enough is enough”. The upbeat tempo and folk feel creates a sing – song letter asking for closure and reminiscing on the painful past. As her Grandson, junior, gets his own chapter the songs are supported by guitar as his story is being told. The reflective lyrics along with questions and maybe whens delve deeper into the pain inflicted on him. Lacking the upbeat facade and fun catchy courses, the true weight of this album begins to sink in further.
As Jimmy Sparks’ chapter focuses on word painting through his three songs, “My Cell” begins eerily sad with “Falling in love is wonderful” then grows darker by calling it so alone. Fixating on his cell, the song becomes so maddening as the rapidly repeated note gets more intense and swells amidst the music to disperse at the very end to hear “all alone” unaccompanied with heavy silence. “Jimmy Sparks” is told from an outsider’s perspective as a night and the repercussions that follows years later is being narrated like folklore. Musical breaks allowed the violin to spin us further into the tale and enthralls the detail of this song. “April” has its own power as an instrumental to give space to captivate the details of the prior story. The final song “Salt and the Sea” is described by The Lumineers as “Sings of a lifetime of regret and a deep yearning for resolution. In the middle section, … intimating the unattainable beauty of a life unlived, as Schultz gets to the heart of the matter.”
I encourage you to visit The Lumineers’ website as they invite us into this storybook of an album to explain these characters and their background in detail.