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Family Banjos

June 13, 2012

I’m not the first to mention The Avett Brothers. I’m not their number one fan. I won’t pretend like I know the origin of every song. What I will state, with 100% confidence, is that the band is a one talented group of musicians.

I think “musician” fits perfectly when describing the trio (quintet when counting touring members). Each one offeres a unique take on an instrument commonly found in either a symphony or on stage at a Nashville honky-tonk. That was what stood out to me upon my first listen of I and Love and You. “January Wedding” began with a plucking banjo accompanied by clear and powerful vocals, not quite singing but  not quite talking.  Modern bluegrass, raw and genuine, the Bros. did not let me down with the next song in the queue. “Ten Thousand Words,” another calm and sweet acoustic melody, brought throaty folk vocals by Avett Brother 1 met with an echo from Avett Brother 2. A personal favorite on this particular album (which is from 2009, leaving anticipation for a 2012 album release understandably high) is “Head full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise.” As the title foreshadows, this track’s gloomy tone threads throughout the instrumentals, vocals and lyrics. However, there is a hopefulness within the dark.

“There was a dream and one day I could see it/ Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it/ And there was a kid with a head full of doubt/ So I’ll scream til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out.”

Like “Head full of Doubt,” “Perfect Space” also symbolizes an internal struggle. An indie rock ballad, this track jumps back and forth between aggressive strumming and piano riffs. The band captures the contradicting ideas of limitation and freedom with its unhibitness of each song. Whether  they are consistent with their down-by-the-dock swaggerm, or experiment with unique instrumental sounds, the Avett Brothers’ raw and genuine passion is obvious.

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