Arena-folk superstars record an EP in South Africa with mixed results.
This five-track “mini-album” is the fruit of two day-long sessions the recently electrified arena-folk stars held with co-producer Johan Hugo (half of the London-based, Afropop-influenced electronic duo the Very Best) during an early 2016 South African tour. The African collaborators add a wrinkle or two to the group’s sound: Senegalese master vocalist Baaba Maal lends gravitas to “There Will Be Time,” and the light touch of the Cape Town pop group Beatenberg gives “Wona” an air of pleasant understatement. But too many forced climaxes here lack the organic sense of drama the Mumfords summon at their best, and the pan-African elements aren’t integrated into the pop-rock song structures, so the lively polyrhythms and keening vocals merely decorate the swelling choruses rather than transforming them. Ultimately, a well-meaning missed opportunity.