Mumford & Sons “Delta Acoustic Sessions: Live From Electric Lady 26.07.18” (2019 Record Store Day EP)

On Record Store Day 2019, Mumford & Sons issued a limited edition 10-inch vinyl picture disc, limited to 3,500 copies, titled Delta Acoustic Sessions: Live From Electric Lady 26.07.18. This disc contained live acoustic performances of four songs from the 2018 studio album Delta, recorded at Electric Lady Studio in New York on July 26, 2018.

The 2018 studio album Delta had a mellow ambient nature that was notably different from the English band’s early banjo-driven folk rock, which they have been moving away from during the last half-decade. The four acoustic live-in-the-studio tracks on the Delta Acoustic Sessions EP are similarly mellow with spare arrangements that sound earthier than the album’s synth ambience. A banjo is noticeable, but only part of the time, and it is never dominant; acoustic guitar and piano seem to play the bigger parts here. The resulting EP sits on a sort of middle ground between the band’s early work and their newer sound.

The picture disc is handsome, with a gold-colored image of horses on black vinyl. However, there seems to be a technical problem with the EP. Universal Music reportedly sent the following message to record stores shortly after the album’s Record Store Day release:

“We have had a legal issue of RSD Delta Acoustic Sessions. 7750387/ 0602577503870 Please could you urgently pull any stock you still have off the shelves as these cannot be sold. Please return to Universal returns dept in the normal way please”

The word on the web is that the recall has to do with all copies being warped. As of this writing, there does not appear to be any corrective re-pressing of the EP in the works. I was still able to find a copy three months after the recall, so some copies may still be in circulation. But be warned: a sound issue is noticeable on the EP’s first side, and you may want to use caution to avoid damaging your phonograph needle.

The opening performance of “Woman” is noticeably gentler than its already gentle studio version, giving the ballad a more personal feeling of tenderness. The second track, “Guiding Light”, is similarly gentler and earthier than its studio version; however, my vinyl copy did have a conspicuously fuzzier sound while this track was playing, possibly a distortion caused by the picture disc pressing. (I began to hear this sound problem at the end of “Woman”, at right about the time the grooves begin to overlap with the horse artwork). Pressing a 45 rpm picture disc was possibly a bad idea.

The second side of the disc is plain black, and the sound is cleaner (although I could hear a few crackles and pops on my copy). The low-key “Wild Heart” does not have the underlying harmonium of its studio version, which may be for the better. On the other hand, I prefer the ambient studio version of “If I Say” to the sparer arrangement on the EP.

Ultimately, fans who prefer the more natural sound of the band’s earlier work to their newer ambient sound are likely to appreciate the simpler sound of this EP, although there is still no escaping the mellower musical direction or the less frequent use of banjos.

Mumford & Sons “Delta Acoustic Sessions: Live From Electric Lady 26.07.18” (Gentlemen Of The Road GLS-0262-10) 2019

Track Listing:

1. Woman
2. Guiding Light
3. Wild Heart
4. If I Say