The Avett Brothers
(Universal Republic Records)
Thanks to acts like Fleet Foxes and Mumford and Sons, folk has confidently taken a spot in the mainstream. With their seventh LP, The Avett Brothers have rightfully found a place near the top of the charts. Paired with super producer Rick Rubin, the North Carolina band has managed to mix traditional folk with more modern elements to create beautiful indie rock.
Though The Carpenter carries plenty of banjo, upright bass, and organ, the bands that it reminds me of aren’t necessarily folk. Irish rockers The Thrills come to mind during “Live and Die,” and the sparseness of “Winter in My Heart” evokes the same atmosphere as Band of Horses. “Pretty Girl from Michigan” goes a step further, with a guitar line straight out of doo-wop.
However, there are some moments that are pure folk. “Down with the Shine” opens with the sound of tuning up a bit and gives way to banjo and plaintive vocals. When the horns kick in, it’s easy to imagine a band sitting around on a porch playing together. Likewise, “Through My Prayers” has a beautiful string and acoustic arrangement that would certainly appeal to fans of indie or country.
The Avett Brothers are not afraid to experiment a little and do not acknowledge the limitations of having a banjo player in the band, and thank God for that. The Carpenter is a lovely fall record, subdued at times, but never anything short of enjoyable.