AVETT BROTHERS > Emotionalism

The Avett Brothers have never been afraid to sew their hearts on their sleeve. Among the many labels that have been placed on the Concord, N.C.-based trio over the years, there has been one that has always ringed clear: honest. On their sixth album, Emotionalism, integrity is once again the pervading theme. In an age they say “where playing it cool is the way to be,” the Avett Brothers lay their thoughts and beliefs on the table for all to examine, hoping that others will do the same.Label: RAMSEUR RECORDS
[Rating: 4.5]

The Avett Brothers have never been afraid to sew their hearts on their sleeve. Among the many labels that have been placed on the Concord, N.C.-based trio over the years, there has been one that has always ringed clear: honest. On their sixth album, Emotionalism, integrity is once again the pervading theme. In an age they say “where playing it cool is the way to be,” the Avett Brothers lay their thoughts and beliefs on the table for all to examine, hoping that others will do the same.

This is a band created from the urge to try something new, when Scott and Seth Avett decided to unplug from their hardcore band Nemo and start the eclectically acoustic row they now hoe. So it’s no surprise that they-along with bassist Bob Crawford-utilize a fresh bag of tricks on Emotionalism. Listening to the pop-friendly production of opener “Die Die Die,” one senses that the Avetts have given a shave and a haircut to their normally rough-hewn sound. It’s as big of a risk as the lyrical material, but dang if it doesn’t work. On “Shame,” a song that finds the brothers lamenting over the loss of a girl due to adolescent confidence, light organ compliments one of the cleanest and best Avett melodies to date. “Will You Return” begins as an insecure Mignonette-esque banjo and guitar shuffle, then rides a bubbly, orchestral interlude into a passionate, drum-backed finish. Four Thieves Gone contributor Paleface adds bluesy harmonica and his Marlboro-tattered rasp to “Go to Sleep,” a reassuring barroom sing-a-long that also incorporates keys, fiddle, cello and drums.

It’s not all upbeat production. Such as on the timeless affirmation of love “All My Mistakes,” the Avetts shift on a few numbers from the back porch to the parlor, allowing solemn polish and stunning lyrics to pull the heartstrings of the listeners. After Emotionalism, honest is going to have to get used to the company of another label: brilliant.


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