Release Date: Sep 29, 2009
Record label: Sony
Genre(s): Rock, Folk
All Growed Up: Band of brothers mature on masterful major label debutIt’s hard to let go. Of a girlfriend. Of an old hound dog. Of a tattered pair of jeans. And maybe most gut-wrenchingly of all, it’s hard to let go of your favorite heretofore unheralded band. Watching them grow from dingy ….
Are the Avett Brothers the Next Big Thing? They certainly bring formidable weapons to the sweepstakes. The Avetts, guitarist Seth and banjoist Scott, are two sweet-singing, super-handsome bros who harmonize on idiosyncratic, soulful folk songs about love and family and connection, the kinds of tunes that inspire lots of linked arms and swaying heads from their fiercely-devoted fans. Signs at Avett Brothers shows often read “Avett Nation”, which feels accurate enough when the crowds of plaid-clad grad students dig deep and sing along in ecstatic unison.
Fans held their breath when Rick Rubin took the Avett Brothers under his wing. What would the co-head of Columbia Records -- a man known for recording rap-rock albums and resurrecting Johnny Cash's late career -- do with a small-time folk trio? The answer is "relatively nothing," as the band's major-label debut continues charting the same musical course as Emotionalism and Mignonette. The Avett Brothers have expanded their reach since 2000, adding elements of pop and hillbilly country-rock to a bluegrass foundation, and they carry on that tradition with I and Love and You, whose songs introduce a new emphasis on piano and nuanced arrangements.
You never feel more British than when perusing the Billboard Country Chart. It's packed with people you've never heard of, all selling millions while apparently locked in a tooth-and-nail struggle to come up with the least persuasive album title of all time. The current undisputed bad-title champion – though he faces stiff competition from Billy Currington (Little Bit of Everything) and Brooks and Dunn (Number Ones … and Then Some) – seems to be a bloke called Luke Bryan, who released a debut called I'll Stay Me, thus reassuring fans who feared he was planning to undergo intimate surgery and re-emerge as a disco singer called Lucinda Brysexual.
Do the Avett Brothers ever wake up feeling cranky? Mean-spirited? Less than generous? Their songs all communicate an unfailingly chummy earnestness that stems from candid introspection and unbidden love for their fellow man, and perhaps more than their brotherly harmonies or their rambunctious take on string-band Americana, that sincerity is their chief appeal. Of late, however, the Avetts' self-reckoning has grown so overbearing that it borders on obsession and threatens to limit their musical range. I and Love and You, their sixth studio album, doesn't break from their monolithic solemnity, but actually intensifies it: The hook on "Ten Thousand Words" goes, "Ain't it like most people, I'm no different, we love to talk on things we don't know about.
An album that furthers its makers’ country-folk cause in all the right ways. Mike Diver 2010 Whenever a band moves from a niche concern to an act with genuine mass appeal, often courtesy of a move to a major label, those who were there since the beginning are often up in arms. Why our band? Why now? Why Rick Rubin? And when it was announced, back in 2008, that the co-head of Columbia – producer for the likes of Slayer, Metallica, Beastie Boys and Johnny Cash – was to work with North Carolina country-folksters The Avett Brothers, the outcry was predictable.