Makes people think with their take on sadness and faith
The Avett Brothers have had a long-standing relationship with folk music. Their rocky, americana brand of folk could perhaps come from their Concord, North Carolina roots. The group is led by brothers Scott and Seth Avett, both directing the band through lead vocals, guitars, piano and drums. While Joe Kwon is typically on cello for their projects, this is EP just includes the two brothers and their long-time bassist Bob Crawford. Together, this trio makes up a sort of sound that intertwines folk, soul, bluegrass, rock, country and even sometimes punk.
They began their career in 2000 with a rocky start with a slew of musicians coming in and out of the band until they met Bob Crawford, where they found a foundation and released their first full-length project, Country Wes, in 2002. In the five years that followed, they released four more albums and won the Emerging Artist of the Year at the 2007 Americana Music Honors & Awards. Since then, they have been steadily putting out records and winning various Americana and Folk awards. They follow these accolades up with a new album this year, The Third Gleam. This eight-track album relies heavily on harmonies and heart.
The record starts out on a solemn note with “Victory.” Some of the first few lines ring in people’s head throughout the song, “I don’t see the bright side quite as well, accolades and happy days, they don’t ever last.” These lyrics set the mood for the rest of the album as they navigate sorrow, brokenness and their inner selves. The album continues on to contrast itself with a light happy banjo in the next song, “I Should’ve Spent The Day With My Family.” However, a contrast within itself appears when the levity of the music is met with the lyrics and news that “there had been another shooting, and this time not so far away and a child lost his life looked an awful lot like mine.” The Avett Brothers continue down this anti-gun-violence-path to try and put into words the hollow feeling that people feel after what seems like another daily tragedy.
A high point in the album comes in the middle with “Untiled #4.” The narrator of this song seems to have found some sort of resolve in his time of suffering after a lost relationship. A pair of acoustic guitars and light drums help carry the melody and feeling along. Another bright spot in this album comes with the last song, “The Fire.” It wraps up the same way it starts—bare, introspective and storied. Scott Avett depicts the reflective nature of sitting by a fire, both literally and figuratively. He recounts his life and others through the flames of “The Fire.”
Stripped down, simple instrumentation is something that is apparent throughout this entire album. While some might want more—more instruments, more sound, more effect—the approach they took allows the listener to get more out of the lyrics. Because of this, people may self-examine in a deeper way, self-examine just like many of the narrators of the songs do. Because of the simple yet pleasing melodies giving way to its stories, The Third Gleam has a way of making one think; and what more can people ask of music or art in general?