Friday, April 23, 2010

CD of the Day: ‘I and Love and You,’ The Avett Brothers (2009)

I’m not one who usually talks like this, but The Avett Brothers’ music touches—no, check that, grabs—me right in the soul. This album made an instant emotional connection in that way only music you love can. I can’t play these songs loud enough.

It’s their voices, more than anything: These boys’ vocals are pure, bright, strong, crisp, and clear. The harmonies on this, their latest album (and basically every song of theirs I’ve heard) are so pleasing and good it almost hurts. They’re like this century’s country version of Simon and Garfunkel.

I’d heard about them for a while, but I first heard them on the “Ace of Cakes” TV show, of all places. Maybe I’m just a sucker for an edible banjo, but I bought this CD almost immediately after catching their brief performance on that show—a few seconds of footage was all it took. Their sound is rooted firmly in folk, bluegrass, and country, but they wander all over the musical map. At times they remind me of Ryan Adams (“Ten Thousand Words”) or Ben Kweller (“And It Spread”), at others Ben Folds (“The Perfect Space”) or Bruce Hornsby (“Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise”).

The variety of moods, emotions, and styles on this disc is stunning: How they can go from the devastatingly sparse title track to a Barenaked Ladies-esque ditty like “Slight Figure of Speech” is beyond me. They can rave up to a bar-brawling fervor like early Wilco (“Kick Drum Heart”) and then rebound with a quintessential country ballad (“Laundry Room”).

It all works, though, because these two brothers (plus bassist Bob Crawford) can sing. They sing loud and they sing proud, and it’s so good you won’t know whether to smile or cry. Either way, you’ll be doing so with joy.

Grade: A-

Favorite Track: “I and Love and You”

Other Favorite Track: “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise”

Least Favorite Track: “It Goes On and On”

No comments: