New Music Review: The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You
There are few things in life more wonderful than having mediocre expectations towards something, and then having those expectations surpassed by the boatload, over and over again. That was more or less my feelings toward the Avett Brothers‘ latest album, I and Love and You.
The reason for mediocre expectations were due to the fact that I had only heard a few songs from the album, the first one being the title-track, I and Love and You, which I was not a huge fan of. It’s not a horrible song, not at all, it just wasn’t anything that blew me away, being a ballad that ran the risk of being overtly sappy (if you are to judge a song by the title, not the lyrics). Had this been the only song of the brothers I knew, I would not have purchased this album.
Fortunately I heard others.
After the opening title-track, January Wedding comes in with banjo and acoustic guitar playing seamlessly together as if one instrument. The song that follows is the song that got me interested in what this band of brothers is capable of doing: Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise. Another piano infused ballad, but not one of love lost or missed opportunity, but with a wonderful chord progression that carries the simple yet thought-provoking lyrics through the entire song, and strongest in the chorus. This song will give you a good dose of Avett ability, but does only highlight a few of their many strengths.
On the other end of the musical spectrum comes And It Spread. A heavy-ish, acoustic, violin and drum number. This is another side of the Avett Brothers that isn’t yet heard on the first 3 tracks of the album, but a side that demonstrates their musical diversity, yet keeping true to what they do. Here is where expectations begin to be surpassed.
The following A Perfect Space begins as a cello (I think) and piano piece, similar to Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise - until the breakdown, that is. At about 2 and-a-half minutes in, the song really picks up tempo and rocks for about 40 seconds. The song then goes back to the piano and is followed by the closing verse with possibly the best line of the album “I wanna have pride like my mother has/And not like the kind in the bible that makes you bad”.
The next song, likely my favourite on the album is Ten Thousand Words. Lyrically and musically, so simple and honest, yet inspiring. I’m in love with Scott Avett’s guitar playing and solos in this song. Nothing overly technical, but great feel and emotion from each note. The chorus line is also fantastic (as are their harmonies): “Ain’t it like most people, I’m no different, we love to talk on things we don’t know about”.
The rest of the album continues with Kick Drum Heart which is the most uptempo song on the album, and a good one. A quick rocker. Laundry Room shares some great melodies, harmonies, lyrics, violin and hand drums.
The final five songs are also great, but when compared to the first eight songs, aren’t quite as good. I still really enjoy the songs and find myself singing along to them (always a good indicator of good songs), but just not quite as magical as what preceded.
The album overall, as I’ve clearly stated is fantastic, even from start to finish. My only critique would be the order of songs. I wish they would have mixed up the songs a little differently, but I’m sure Rick Rubin had a proper order in mind when producing this album for the brothers. A great album and highly recommended for piano lovers, ballad fans, acoustic rockers and alt-country hipsters. You shan’t be disappointed!
Had it been released this year, I’d rival I and Love and You for album of the year for 2010: 4.5 stars out of 5!