Umphrey’s McGee – The London Session [Album Review]
Confession: I don’t enjoy writing album reviews. Why? Well, it takes time for most albums to grow on me. The more I listen, the more it resonates, and deeper meanings start to shine through. It’s not often I hear a new album and immediately fall in love.
The London Session by Umphrey’s McGee is a stark exception. I can comfortably declare that this album is remarkable and worth talking about. I have heard all ten of these tracks performed live many times before, so this is by no means my first taste of the material. And although it is technically a studio recording, TLS managed to capture Umphrey’s live energy.
The magic ingredient is the space-time continuum. Umphrey’s only had ONE DAY at Abbey Road Studios in London to tackle this project and create the best possible piece of art in a very special space. The songs they chose had to be squeaky clean, yet fresh enough to stimulate a familiar ear. Each selection had been road tested, though many had yet to experience the “studio treatment.” And at the end of the day, there simply wasn’t enough time for songs to get overworked, which added an element of excitement only comparable to hearing Umphrey’s McGee play live.
The London Session is a cohesive piece of art that captures the essence of what makes Umphrey’s unique in the world of music. When looked at as a whole, it is the perfect mix of dance, rage, and progressiveness that this band is known for. It will make you cry (“Glory”) then laugh (“Eat”) all in a matter of minutes until the emotional roller coaster ends where it began: The Beatles. “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” grounds The London Session as its final track and gives tribute to its source of inspiration. This element of coming full circle may seem cliche, but Umphrey’s perfect execution dissolves any and all criticism.
The variations within each track throughout the album are where things really get juicy. “Cut the Cable” is infused with guitar twang, as opposed to the hard rock version recorded on Similar Skin, The London Session’s Irish twin. Lyrics were also added to “Eat,” a previously all-instrumental tune that embodies Umphrey’s heavy metal side. Often overpowered in the live setting, keyboardist Joel Cummins thickened The London Session in a very unexpected and tantalizing way. The keyboardist shines in “Glory” where the twinkle of a piano kicks off the track as opposed to Jake Cinninger’s familiar guitar work.
After recording in June of 2014, The London Session went underground and was kept secret until just a few months before its release. Many rumors surfaced regarding the unprecedented project, but no one could have imagined that this progressive rock band from humble Midwest beginnings could pull something like this off. I am confident that The London Session will go down in history as one of Umphrey’s McGee’s greatest accomplishments and I can’t wait to see the next studio session they pull out of thin air.
Umphrey’s McGee The London Session is available to purchase now!