Five out of five stars
The Lumineers have stepped out of the typical folk mold and created an album that is an entire cinematic experience. “III” follows the life of the Sparks family (Gloria, her son Jimmy and Gloria’s grandson Junior), their battle with addiction and the destructiveness that follows. The band also released a music video to accompany each song, creating a cinematic experience to accompany their music.
This album follows the typical majesty and grace that The Lumineers have been known for. While it is hard to live up to the success of songs like “Ho Hey” and “Ophelia,” this album and its selected singles offer a different sound and more thought-provoking lyrics. There are three chapters in the album, each pertaining to a different member of the Sparks family.
The first song, “Donna,” introduces Gloria Sparks. It is told from the second-person point of view and describes what Gloria has said and done in her life. “Donna” flows effortlessly into the second song on the album, “Life in the City.” The Lumineers take well-known lines from their song, “Sleep On The Floor” and use them as the bridge. The lines “And if the sun don’t shine on me today / And if the subways flood and bridges break / Will you just lay down and dig your grave? / Or will you rise against your dying day?” speak to events in Gloria’s life, asking if she will crumble or stand up to the negative events in her life. This chapter closes out with the song “Gloria.”
The next chapter is about Junior Sparks, Gloria’s grandson. “It Wasn’t Easy to Be Happy for You” details Junior’s first heartbreak. He tries to be happy for his partner as she decides to move on. The next song, “Leader of the Landslide” discusses Junior’s relationship with his abusive father and his father’s addiction. Junior grows up and sees that his dad’s addiction and violent nature is hurting his family and decides that he doesn’t want to follow in his footsteps. To close the chapter, Junior moves away from his father’s house in “Left for Denver.”
The final chapter is about Jimmy Sparks, Gloria’s son and Junior’s father. The first track, “My Cell,” eerily tells of a man who feels so utterly alone, like he is trapped in a jail cell. “Jimmy Sparks” tells his life story, detailing his alcohol and gambling addiction. The song takes a turn when Junior encounters his dad after leaving home. The final song “Salt and the Sea” describes Junior and Jimmy’s relationship from Jimmy’s point of view.
This is the third album that the Denver, Colorado-based group has released. Each song is well written and is within their familiar folk/rock style. This album tells a story seamlessly throughout and provides perspective on families that battle abuse and addiction. They also have songs that are more relatable to the majority of their audience. They sing about heartbreak, loss and feelings of hopelessness and love. This album is well worth a listen and a watch.