Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Avett Brothers Backwards, Part II (long overdue)

To say that I have a backlog of potential posts on music in my mind would be quite the understatement. When I re-formulated the blog to include more than just music, I thought this would allow me to post more regularly with music mixed in, but somehow music posts always take longer and I don't seem to get to them. But I will not give in! Post even shorter, even less-insightful posts about music? Sure. Give in? Never!

So let's start with the fact that it has been since last Halloween (as in two and a half months, several blizzards, and a host of holidays ago) that I posted Part I of this supposed two part post on the Avett Brothers. (As The Engineer would say: sheesh!) If you can recall that far back, I noted that I had not owned any music by these fine musicians and was in the process of exploring them startng with their most recent album first and working backwards. Payton commented (back on the dreaded WordPress blog) that he hoped the next album I was listening to was Emotionalism as every song on it was a gem.

It was, and he is right.

I know this sounds silly, but part of the beauty of this album is that it is so, well, emotional. And not just any emotions, but a lot of different ones--love, shame, anger, anticipation, remorse, sadness and on and on. Many of them are connected with growing up, learning and self-reflection, which anyone who has read anything I have written about music knows is one of my favorite themes. Here for instance is a favorite verse from "The Weight of Lies":
I once heard the worse thing
A man could do is draw a hungry crowd
Tell everyone his name, pride, and confidence
But leaving out his doubt
I’m not sure I bought those words
When I was young I knew most everything
These words have never met so much to anyone
As they now mean to me
Verses such as that are made all the more powerful by great song construction and singing with beautiful harmonies. The songs invite you in, envelop you and take you for their own individual rides. They make you ache, but leave you hopeful.

The album is also put together really well in terms of song order and theme. It moves nimbly from ballad to blues to upbeat bluegrass. Even the "Pretty Girl from Chile" which moves from country-flamenco (is that a genre? or redundant in some way?) to a minute and a half of rocking metal falls just right in the midst of the other songs. And as usual with albums that I find so compelling as albums it is hard to know what to sample to really reflect the effort as a whole. It is also a bit difficult because many of these songs speak directly to me and so it is not hard to get all personal about them.

So here are three from later in the album to give you a sense. Suffice it to say that I wish I had written "All My Mistakes" (on a regular basis). Following that "Living of Love" is perfectly time and beautifully crafted and "Pretty Girl from SD" gives you a sense of the fun side of this album.

All My Mistakes
Living Of Love
Pretty Girl From San Diego

The bottom line here is that if there happens to be anyone else out there who managed to not notice this album when it came out a couple years back, just pick it up already.

And for those who are already AB connoisseurs, what is the next album I should sample?


  1. Just saw this, forgot to add your new blog to my reader.

    Glad you enjoyed it so much. Interesting that you decided to post songs from the back end of the disc - for the first few months of listening, I was in love with the first 6 or so tracks, but in the following months the second half revealed its beauty to me.

    Great post. I'd say to move on to the two Gleam EPs from here. They are a little more intimate and thus contain some of thier more touching songs.

  2. That different parts of an album emerge over time is the sign of a great album I think. Will keep following your advice here Payton.