The Avett Brothers 'The Carpenter' - American

As stated in our live review,  the Avetts are a different beast, of late, on record, discounting of course the live albums they have released during their career. This second album on American is again produced by Rick Rubin, who has broadened their sound beyond the stripped down acoustic music of the original trio of Seth and Scott Avett and Robert Crawford. For The Carpenter they are joined by additional players,  including touring members Joe Kwon and Jacob Edwards;  another thirteen musicians are credited , including Benmont Tench, Lenny Castro and Chad Smith.

The Avett’s  songs are built around the voices of Seth and Scott and they have taken that core trio sound and added a range of instruments which give the music a wider appeal. However it is the songs of the trio which are the stars here as they have been on previous albums and on this record they feature less banjo though it is still a dominant element live. Equally, there is less piano than previously. The folk vision and melodies now sit beside full-blown rock sounds.  I Never Knew You has a sunnier disposition than the title and lyrics might suggest. Many of these songs look inward to try and understand the reasons that relationships can fail as much as they can survive hardship. Winter In My Heart is a theme that has been explored in the past and will be in the future. The loss of faith and love is timeless.

I suspect that those who have grown up listening to the Avett Brothers will have mostly grown with the music. Some however,  may yearn for the simpler and more direct take on bluegrass that the band previously represented. While this album may not top I and Love and You, there is much here to enjoy and it certainly reveals more on repeated play. It is the sound of a band exploring possibilities with a degree of subtlety and success that can only see their audience grow. In the wake of the outright success of the far more mainstream Mumford & Sons, that's an interesting prospect.

The Avett Brothers 'I and Love and You' American

This trio have been building a strong following in the USA through some strong live performances and an increasingly sophisticated set of albums. They have brought their music from it's acoustic string band roots to a full sound that has seen erroneous comparisons to the likes of Coldplay. The foundation of these songs is still rooted in their original intentions but has, in the studio, been expanded and built on to the point where now with a major label and having their album produced by Rick Rubin has brought them wider attention (and criticism) for what they do. The piano and percussion are all much more in evidence on this album, which, not unexpectedly, has a greater sonic footprint within it's sound than on previous albums, although it's immediate predecessor the indie Emotionalism is not that far behind in terms of overall direction. The trio are multi-instrumentalists and also employ a team of additional players to give this album it's layered and textured range. What has been apparent all along is that these guys can write a good song and give it a good lyric. There is a sense of a set of songs that have a high lyric content that are both literary and likable. From the title song to the telling Ten Thousand Words to percussive dynamic of the more upfront Kick Drum Heart. Then there's the sibling harmonies which grace many of the their melodic and memorable songs. Many of these songs will find a place on rock radio as they are filled with hooks and choruses that lodge with the music memory cells. The word is spreading and it won't belong before they start to play in bigger venues and many more will know who the Avett Brothers are in the way the Kings Of Leon built on their original inspirations to reach their own sound and audience. The Avett Brothers are coming from a different place but could end up standing on the same stages but you getting the feeling that whatever way it turns out that these guys will continue to their music. As the song says It Goes On and On.