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Album Review: The Carpenter by The Avett Brothers

Posted by Mike Moynahan on 10/08 at 01:54 AM

Grade: B+

Scott and Seth Avett, the guys who comprise the Avett Brothers, are back at it again with their new album, The Carpenter, which was released on September 11th on Universal Republic with producer Rick Rubin. The brothers, who play banjo and guitar respectively, are joined by figurative brothers Bob Crawford on bass, Joe Kwon on cello, and Jacob Edwards on percussion. The album is the group’s first since 2009’s I and Love and You and it does not disappoint.

The album begins with “The Once and Future Carpenter” which contains the lyrics “once I was a carpenter and man my hands were calloused. I could swing a metal mallet sure and straight. But I took to the highway, a poet young and hungry, and I left rotting timbers where they lay.” The life of a hard worker who chose to take a new, introspective path is shown, as the chorus reflects, “if I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die.” It’s an uplifting song and a good track to start off the album.

The second song , “Live and Die,” might be the strongest on the album. The thematic idea of life and death continues as the brothers sing, “you and I, we’re the same. Live and die, we’re the same. Hear my voice, know my name. You and I, we’re the same”.  The question is also raised in the verse, “can’t you tell I’m alive?” but immediately reconciled with, “let me prove it.” It’s a lovely track following two people who may have differences at times but ultimately just love being together. The song starts out with melodic banjo picking before the acoustic guitar joins in.

Other standout tracks on the album include “February Seven,” “Winter in My Heart,” “Pretty Girl from Michigan,” and “Down with the Shine.” The album, great as a whole, contains no songs that stand out as weak. Every track packs a unique folk-filled punch that will have you listening to each one many more times.

The album’s final track, “Life,” brings the album full circle. It opens with the lines, “One comes of it, love it, love it. Let go of it, love comes from it. We’re not of this world for long.” The song is a rather somber reflection on what different experiences life can offer. We hear the observation that there is “hell and paradise right here on earth,” an idea expressed during the album’s first eleven tracks. The Carpenter shows love, pain, regret, happiness and many other stops on the spectrum of emotions.

The musicianship on the album is quite fantastic. Because Scott and Seth are brothers it feels like you could just be listening to them jam out at a family party. There’s no doubt they, along with the rest of the band, really work well together. The vocal harmonies make the banjo and guitar even better. It’s a folksy album but still contains pop and alternative elements that make it unique. It’s reminiscent of what a collaboration between The Beatles and Bob Dylan would sound like today if that were possible. Of course, there’s no way The Avett Brothers could be placed in the same category as those acts yet, but they possess a strong set of skills all their own which is important. It’s refreshing folk can still be popular and receive recognition for the emotional weight it is able to carry with it.

The Carpenter is definitely worth some of your time. Especially during this autumn, with winter quickly approaching, this folk album would be good thing to compliment the season. Check it out for yourself on iTunes or get it straight from the band.

{name} Author: Mike Moynahan
Bio: Mike Moynahan is a senior majoring in English and minoring in Media Studies. In addition to writing, he co-hosts the Indie 500 show every Wednesday at 7PM on The LION 90.7fm. He enjoys watching T.V. (especially Breaking Bad), digging deep into the bowels of Netflix for instant viewing when he’s bored, reading and napping in his free time. No artists will ever be greater than the Beatles or Elliott Smith but he commends the rest of the pack for trying their best. Some of his current favorites include The Gaslight Anthem, The Weakerthans, Death Cab for Cutie, The Front Bottoms, Titus Andronicus, Arcade Fire, Built to Spill, Manchester Orchestra, Kevin Devine, The Hold Steady, Los Campesinos!, Bon Iver, and Coldplay. Especially Coldplay.


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