The Avett Brothers: The Carpenter [Album Review]

The Avett Brothers
The Carpenter
American/Universal Records [2012]

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Album Review: The Avett Brothers return to the music scene next week with the release of their seventh album, The Carpenter, which once again reunites them with producer Rick Rubin and engineer Ryan Hewitt. The album finds the band continuing to push their classic neo-folk sound forward and completely focusing in on each and every component that makes their music so engaging. This fine tuning covers everything from songwriting to their memorable harmonies and at times creates a warm 70’s vibe that is gorgeously timeless.

Right from the opening track, “The Once And Future Carpenter”, the listener will immediately take note that The Carpenter has a slightly more serious tone to it as Seth Avett sings “if I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die.” This more acoustic track highlights everything that makes The Avett Brothers such a talent as the song is thought provoking, spiritual, memorable and features plenty of that Avett harmonizing that just soars. This then transitions into first single “Live And Die” which is a bit more like classic Avett’s style as the banjo plays a larger front and center role that is completed with the up and down catchy chorus that is a sure fire sing along for the live show.

The Carpenter shines because of small refinements in The Avett Brothers delivery as small background pieces throughout the album increase the warmth of its sound. It doesn’t matter if they use piano, acoustic guitar, banjo, cello, organ or even a more fuzzed electric guitar the end result ups each songs quality. The peaceful but darker “Winter In My Heart” is noticeably rich while “Pretty Girl From Michigan” is more playful but sonically a force with its bursts of instrumentation. All of these moments should connect fans and grow stronger with each successive spin of the album.

This leads us to the second to last track on The Carpenter titled “Paul Newman Vs. The Demons” which might throw some fans for a bit of a loop as it is a full blown rock song. The track is a true tribute to the Nirvana and Soundgarden that the brothers grew up on as well as revisiting the more Avett rock band era which came well before The Avett Brothers we know today. The track has loud guitars, a loud melody and lets the band cut loose on record, which personally I found myself enjoying as the immediate style shift works. This is also one of those moments in the record I respect because they took a big risk with the inclusion of this song because it really is very different.

The Carpenter admittedly is one of the most personal records The Avett Brothers have released as it covers life, death and the personal accounts that surround those experiences. You can hear the emotion in each and every track and those feelings most certainly play as their own instrument which should connect on some level with each listener that hears this album. I think that The Avett Brothers sum it up best in “February Seven” when they sing “I’m rested and I’m ready…to begin” as The Carpenter sets them off on a new journey that now seems to not have a limit!

Key Tracks: “Live And Die”, “Down With The Shine”, “The Once And Future Carpenter”

Artists With Similar Fire: Pure Prairie League / The Head And The Heart / The Band

The Avett Brothers Website
The Avett Brothers Facebook
American Recordings
Universal Republic Records

-Reviewed by Christopher Anthony

Christopher Anthony
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