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After only a few seconds into the first song, I knew "The Carpenter" would be the best album yet by the Avett Brothers. It ranks among my favorite albums of the year.
The entire album a delightful listen and I believe folk rock and pop music fans would each find at least one song enjoyable.
Led by the harmonizing folk-rock duo of Scott and Seth Avett, the North Carolina-based band has built a following since "Country Was" in 2002.
With Scott on banjo and Seth on guitar, the brothers Avett are joined by upright bassist Bob Crawford, Joe Kwon on cello and drummer Jacob Edwards. The band’s authentic sound is maintained even on tracks that feature ambient sounds.
Rick Rubin signed on in 2009 to produce their last studio album “I and Love and You,” and joined them for “The Carpenter” as well. With Rubin at the helm, the two albums sound better than anything released prior. Both feature clear vocals, snappy drum beats and a wall-of-sound reminiscent of the Beatles and the Beach Boys.
The sixth song, "February Seven," clearly exemplifies the strength of production that is evident throughout all 12-tracks. Beginning with a simple slow-picking acoustic guitar riff, the sound builds anticipating each verse using a crisp transition.
Where quiet songs have their place, seven of the 12 track are upbeat with “Live and Die” providing the most catchy chorus on the album.
Rhyming lyrics and harmonies make frequent appearances on the Avett Brothers albums, but they don’t sound corny or out of place. It is also not a reproduction of a musical era. Both the lyrics and harmonies effectively transport the listener into a universe created by the Avett Brothers.
The band’s unique folk rock sound stands out among modern music. At times country, at times rock and all the while embracing folk; the album is all true Avett Brothers. When they are not harmonizing, the brothers trade off verses, as on "Down With the Shine."
But besides having melodic voices, the Avett brothers show off their musicianship on this album. The backing is spotlighted on "Pretty Girl From Michigan," and the violin-driven ballad "Through My Prayers."
"The Carpenter," could be an obvious reference to one of history's most famous carpenters, but the album does not maintain an overtly religious tone. There are references to higher powers, demons and lots of references to death.
Ultimately the lyrics suggest the singers are searching for answers in a chaotic world. They may not have found what they are looking for but I love hearing their exploration of music.
"Forever I will move like the world that turns beneath me
And when I lose my direction I'll look up to the sky
And when the black cloak drags upon the ground
I'll be ready to surrender, and remember
Well we're all in this together
If I live the life I'm given, I wont be scared to die"
- "Once and Future Carpenter"
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