Quincy Mumford and the Reason Why released their latest album, “Its Only Change,” this summer, advertising it as a mixture of jazz, blues, soul, rock, funk, hip-hop and more. It seems impossible that one CD could contain such a variety of sounds – until you sit and listen.
Mumford has a folksy voice, like an edgier John Mayer, with a blues quality that makes some of his songs reminiscent of modern folk artists such as Eric Hutchinson. However, the diversity present in each song gives it a distinct quality, making it a striking piece of musical fusion.
The album opens on a (literal) high note with “Change,” which starts out sounding like a folk-rock song, but quickly transitions into a mellow, almost reggae style, as Mumford urges his audience, “don’t be afraid, here comes a change.”
Throughout the CD, it seems that the band favors simpler lyrics such as these. This can be problematic when they err towards cliches, as with the track “Eventually,” which refers to “white picket fences” and states, “I know this life can all be fun and games.”
However, the sound remains strong with the album’s second track, “For You.” The song opens with the blues-y sound of background singers chanting “woah, for you,” instantly hypnotizing listeners. It may throw some people off when the song switches back to a reggae beat, but the band pulls off the conversion well.
Certain tracks have a slightly edgier vibe, such as the third song “Under the Covers,” as well as the song, “No Love.” “Under the Covers” has more of an old-school jazz feel, with the introduction of brass instrumentals and a rolling beat. Mumford’s voice has a slick, sensual dimension as he tries to tempt a girl to come to bed with him.
For an even sharper breakaway from the mellowness of other tracks, there’s “No Love,” which has an edgy beat and soft vocals that bite with each scathing verse.
Another standout track is “Time Won’t Wait,” which starts soft before a few quick guitar chords speed up the tempo and add an optimistic feel. Near the end, there is a fast-paced spoken verse that will startle listeners who have relaxed into the sound of Mumford’s mellow vocals.
The most impressive aspect of “It’s Only Change” is how quickly the band transitions between genres within each track. The album has everything from electronic mix to brassy instrumentals to keening vocals, ensuring that it will not grow stale after the first listen.
Though the lyrics sometimes lack imagination, the sound quality stands out as a distinctive blend that is perfect for listeners who want to break away from standard sounds.