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Avett Brothers: The Carpenter

By Taylor Fulkerson
On October 19, 2012

The Avett Brothers released their seventh studio album entitled The Carpenter on Sept. 11, their second album with producer Rick Rubin and record label Universal Republic. As expected, the Avetts have produced another album that goes deeper lyrically; however, it certainly continues with the musical shift in their work, catering to a broader audience, a bigger labelAs usual, the lyrics are great. This
band can turn a phrase; they have always been able to, and they will continue to do so. They paint pictures from real life experience to relate the emotional depth that they themselves have felt and are feeling - much of the album was inspired by bassist Bob Crawford's struggle with his two-year-old daughter's brain tumor diagnosis. Songs like "The Once and Future Carpenter" and "Winter in my Heart" certainly par the previous slow, emotional gravity that the
Avetts have always managed to reach (like several tracks on The Second Gleam (2008) and tracks like "The Weight of Lies" from Emotionalism (2007)). The musicality of The Carpenter, however, is a departure from the Avett Brothers as we knew them in the past. The band has been called a folk-rock group, but it seems they are moving more towards
the rock end of the spectrum. More of the tracks take the rock sound and rhythm. The album is definitely more popfocused. The addition of organ backings for tracks is noticeable, as is the piano, which first caught attention on there 2009 album, I and Love and You. The presence of electric guitar is overwhelming when compared with their previous releases. Another highly noticeable shift in the music is the lack of banjo. The Avett Brothers have always (and liberally) employed the twangy banjo sound for their music, whether it was some down-home picking or some simple chords. It's not that the banjo is gone altogether -
it simply is no longer in the front of the mix or noticeable.
That familiar staple sound of the older Avett Brothers' albums
is absent from this one. Throughout their many albums, the Avetts have written many songs with the title "Pretty Girl
from [Location]." On this album, it was "Pretty Girl from Michigan." This track is punctuated by a rock rhythm (count with me: 1-2-3-4) and electric instrumentation. In the past, the songs have ranged from pensive and slow to jumpy
and worth dancing to, but always something interesting. This track doesn't really fit in the with the down-home style of the past. If anything, it feels indicative of the shift towards a more popular sound that the band is transitioning
into. This album is certainly indicitive of a shift for the Avett
Brothers. It's evident on a number of counts, such as the revamped, more popular instrumentation. That doesn't by any counts make it a bad album, but it's not what you would expect coming from their older discography. It's markedly slower, and there's not a single track that makes me want to jump up and down, unlike previous releases. However, if you appreciate a few good tracks to jam to and a polished set of songs for reflection, this is a good album for the job.
and more popularity.


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