When I first starting really getting into the Avett Brothers a few years ago in 2009, with the release of I and Love and You, I couldn’t get enough of them. And I was lucky, because there was so much other material to start collecting and listening to! I discovered some of my favorite songs on that release (such as The Perfect Space, Laundry Room, Tin Man…ok, there is a lot I like about it!!). But I also heard people say that it was too ‘polished’ for the Avetts. That they preferred them more raw. I started going back in their discography and started to understand what long time fans meant. The Avett Brothers have such strong lyric writing capacities and many of those lyrics are weighed in heavy emotions. Those feelings and emotions come out best when the songs are being performed live without restraint. And that is something very different than a finely tuned album recording. There is room for both, but if you only listen to an Avetts album, then you are depriving yourself of the magical experience that is the Avett Brothers. If you can’t see them live and in person, you can still get the feelings by listening to their one of their (3) live albums or even watching them perform on tv (or on their Live, Volume 3 dvd).
Their newest album, The Carpenter, does not disappoint on the lyrical front. They are masters with their words and ideas. I would love to be a fly on the wall during a writing session! Initially, I was a little disappointed that the boot stomping sing-alongs were missing from this album. But that was only initially. The Carpenter feels like a much more serious, sentimental release. It seems to follow in the foot steps of The Gleam (2006) and The Second Gleam (2008) releases. Those EPs are softer and played live less, for the most part. They seem more private, if that is possible. That said, some of my very favorite Avett brothers songs are on the Gleams — Murder in the City (I was there for this performance!!) and When I Drink (the inspiration for the name of this blog!!), for example. When listening to The Carpenter album, you can tell that they have grown up, gotten married, had kids (some of them!), and watched as one of their young offspring fought cancer. They are more mature and more aware that life is more than ‘just playing music’. Just listen to this song, A Fathers First Spring, that mentions Scott’s eldest daughter, Eleanor.
I never lived til I lived in your light
And my heart never beat like it does at the sight
Of you baby blue, God blessed your life.
I do not live ‘less I live in your life.
I do not live ‘less I live in your life.
I think I’ve covered the good and bad (I mean, it really isn’t bad…just a little disappointment at first!)…now for the ugly. Recently, Scott and Seth Avett performed a little of their single, Live and Die, off the new album, for a Gap commercial. They have also teamed up with Target and when you buy the cd there, you get two bonus songs. And I admit, a part of me cringed a little when I heard about it. I mean, the Avett Brothers don’t exactly scream Gap to me…but I do buy Gap clothes, so I can’t fault them there! Another part of me was elated. That part of me has learned a lot about the music industry over the past 9 months and I understand what that type of exposure can mean for an artist. There are a lot of “fans” yelling sell-out in the direction of the brothers. But I really think that is unfair. These days, there are very few musicians who are out there making millions. The majority are barely scraping by and sacrificing a lot along the way, especially if they have families. If the Gap ad and the Target deal mean that the Avett Brothers can spend a little more time at home, cherishing those moments that they have learned are precious and irreplaceable, then I applaud them. And I hope other real fans will feel the same way…yes, we all love their music and would prefer that they play in our backyard everyday, but they are also real people with real families and friends who need them! It’s easy to yell sell-out, but let’s look deeper into the situation to understand it a little better.
Here is the Gap ad…and come on, they are true to themselves and this ad is just too adorable!!