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The Avett Brothers and their lovely harmonies

November 23, 2009

The Avett Brothers
I and Love and You
September 29, 2009

Rating: 8.5/10

Like so many famous brothers before them (Beach Boys, Allman Brothers, et al.) Scott and Seth Avett’s music is defined by their beautiful harmonies. Marked with their southern drawl and country-rock style, these brothers have made one of the prettiest albums of the year.

The album begins with the title track, rising slowly from a piano and a gentle bowed cello to a gentle climax with delicate harmonies, horns and soft drumming. It sets a wonderfully melancholy stage for the album, creating the perfect aura and emotion for what is about to be heard.

I and Love and You is the band’s first album with Sony and for it they partnered with super-producer Rick Rubin, who is notable for his work with acts like Weezer, Jay-Z and the Dixie Chicks. It’s impressive that with a résumé that spans so many talented musical acts and musical genres, Rubin was able to produce such a gentle, muted album that perfectly suits the music of The Avett Brothers.

At no point in the album does the music sound slick or over-produced, but rather it has this subtle quality that aids its attempt to speak to the listeners soul.

“January Wedding,” a gentle banjo-picked waltz, follows the title track – rising up from its tender sadness and offering a little more hope. The album gets it’s feet from the third song “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise,” swirling with organs and optimism, it breaks down and builds back up and offers just a glimpse at the beauty that is yet to come from the remaining ten tracks.

There is a tight battle going on for my favorite song from I and Love and You. “The Perfect Space” is a lovely song, similar to the title track; it starts slowly and rocks out fully in the Brothers’ “punkgrass” style before calming back down. The song touches on the issue of maturing that speaks to me (and certainly many peers) on a personal level.

Full of enthusiasm and vigor, “Kick Drum Heart” really gets my toes tapping and spreads a smile across my face. The song is a lot of fun and the pitter-patter of the kick drum mimicking a heartbeat and the primal scream of Seth Avett accentuate the liveliness embodied within the music.

Watching the band bounce around Jimmy Fallon’s stage and shred their strings, bows and vocal chords performing “Slight Figure of Speech” catapulted it among my favorites. (Watch that performance here and the hilarious music video here.) The song has a jangly pop vibe similar to the aforementioned music of the brothers Wilson (a.k.a. The Beach Boys) and catches fire with the quick psuedo-rap thrown in between chorus and verse.

While I may not be able to choose between those songs for a favorite, this album would be nothing if it weren’t for the fantastic ditties strewn in between. The brothers find the beauty in laundry rooms, tin men, incompletion and everything in between and paint it with a harmonic brush and wire brushes creating stunning musical artistry

As a whole I and Love and You runs the gamut of emotion; it’s playful and melancholy, it’s uplifting and thoughtful. More than anything it is a country gem amongst a field of coal and certainly one of my favorite albums this year.

Slight Figure of Speech – Avett Brothers
Kick Drum Heart – Avett Brothers
I and Love and You – Avett Brothers

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