Not a whole lot has changed about The Avett Brothers approach to songwriting and performing over the course of their 10+ year career, and in this case that may be something to celebrate. With so many synthesizers, auto-tuned hooks and digital effects out there, it's refreshing to know that there are still a few bands around capable of doing things the old fashioned way, and doing it well. There's nothing quite as real as writing songs and belting them out with your family while hammering them out on simple stringed instruments made out of honest to goodness wood.
The music that brothers Seth and Scott Avett make is admittedly nothing new, but they are breaking ground in a broader sense. Their songs tackle large and complex ideas with lyrics and arrangements so efficient, simple and effective that they make you wonder why you didn't write the song yourself. In doing so, they seem to have pushed past a lot of the glittery noise and sonic clutter that dominates much of todays popular music and have somehow, against all odds, broken into the collective popular radar with a style and presentation that would be considered primitive by most modern standards.
With the breakthrough success of 2009's I and Love and You, the band's sixth full length, the Avetts sparked a discussion in the music world that has blurred the lines between what would previously have been labeled traditional or contemporary popular music. Playing in a style based largely in bluegrass and appalachian folk, they proved that regardless of current gimmicks or popular trends, an audience will always warm to a strong melody and well crafted narrative.
Last week the Avetts released the long awaited follow up to I and Love and You, entitled The Carpenter. Working with legendary producer Rick Rubin at the controls once again (The band first worked with Rubin on their previous album), The Avetts deliver an album every bit as beautifully simple and earnest as their last. They again display a startling ability to cut through the secular individuality of a wide variety of listeners and come to rest on the most basic principles of what it means to be human and alive. There is something there that almost everyone can identify with, regardless of the listeners age, gender, politics or religion.
The Carpenter is yet another in a long line of albums from the Avetts that seems to identify and redefine these common denominators of all engaging and accessible music, a collection of timelessly relevant songs written and performed with intelligence, talent, heart and emotion. The formula is age old, but these guys know that it's not broken, so they're not going to try and fix it. Like a tall glass of lemonade on a hot day, The Carpenter is certainly nothing new, but unquestionably refreshing nonetheless.
The Avett Brothers perform “Live and Die”, the lead single from their new album The Carpenter, on their tour bus.
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