Graham Reid | | 1 min read
This trio (and guests) is fronted by North Carolina brothers Scott and Seth Avett who recorded five albums before this major label debut on Rick Rubin’s American label.
Rubin -- producer of the Beastie Boys, recent Johnny Cash albums and now the Avetts -- was taken by this band’s honest emotions whose music is framed by acoustic guitars, fiddles, banjo, upright piano and the customary alt.country artillery. What sets them apart is the intertwining of the sibling’s vocals and harmonies, and the theme of those problematic words in the title.
The gentle acoustic Ten Thousand Words has the introspection of an early James Taylor (without the self-pity), January Wedding could have come from a brief time of optimism in a bleak Civil War film, and the string-kissed Perfect Space hits that naked truth Rubin was attracted to (“I want to have friends . . .”).
Musically there are echoes of a youthful version of The Band on And It Spread, a little raw angst which betrays their alt.rock origins (the punk-pop Kick Drum Heart, the New Wave-folk of Slight Figure of Speech) and Ill With Want is filled with piano-driven dramatic melancholy not too far removed from Elton John‘s Tumbleweed Connection.
No prize for the lumpy It Goes On and On though.
Something old, something new, things borrowed and blue moods. Rubin’s instincts mostly sound right.