This banjo-led slow burner serves as both an apology to a former lover and a love letter to the people Mumford & Sons left behind while touring the world following the success of their debut album Sigh No More. Holland Road is a real street in West London. The band started their career playing in West London and were part of the "West London folk scene."
The band wrote the song during a sound check and unveiled it during an in-studio appearance at Colorado radio station KBCO in June 2011. Fans subsequently uploaded it under its then title of "Home."
Several years before frontman Marcus Mumford married British actress Carey Mulligan, he dated singer-songwriter Laura Marling for a time. Interestingly, Marling sings about walking up on Holland Avenue with her lover on her I Speak Because I Can track, "Alpha Shallows." The likelihood is that she is referencing Mumford as she also alludes to his Christian faith - "He'd pray up to his God that he might save his soul." (Mumford's parents are leaders of the evangelical Vineyard Church in the UK and the singer used to play with banjo player Winston Marshall in a church worship band when they were younger).
It could well be that Mumford is singing about breaking up with Marling when he sings at the beginning of this song, "I ran away in floods of shame. I'll never tell how close I came. As I cross the Holland Road. You went left and I went right." (Holland Park Avenue is an upmarket street located in the London districts of Kensington and Chelsea, whilst Holland Road connects Kensington High Street with the Holland Park roundabout.)
Oliver Gill from Ladbroke GroveHigh St Ken connected to Shepherds Bush Roundabout via Holland Rd. The SB end of Holland Rd has access to the westside houses from Elsham Rd located behind and parallel to Holland Park Avenue.