BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
There’s no shortage of reasons why the Avett Brothers have become the darlings of the Americana crowd, and every one of them is evident on this, the band’s latest superb offering. The fact that it’s essentially a set of outtakes (these were songs originally recorded for the Avetts’ last album, 2012’s The Carpenter, but for whatever reason, failed to make the cut) makes this even more impressive… and, for that matter, all the more essential as well.
Most artists would kill to have secondary material half this good, but the fact that the Avetts can take a batch of leftover tracks and repurpose them as such an exceptional album reflects the high bar they always attain. The mix of pathos and determination reflects a willingness to wear their tattered emotions on their collective sleeves, and turn those sentiments into songs that resonate with everyman appeal. The staunch and assertive “Open-Ended Life” boasts banjos and harmonies that bring Poco to mind, but the forlorn desire inherent in songs such as “Morning Song” and “Never Been Alive” offers another indication of the innate vulnerability that’s endeared them to their admirers. For the most part, the songs are simply stated – whether it’s the homespun pluck of “Another Is Waiting,” the simple acoustic set-up on “Bring Your Love to Me” or the opening melody of “Good to You,” which sounds so eerily like the beginning of “Norwegian Wood.”
The latter is no matter however. At this point, comparisons are moot. The Avett Brothers have established a singular style. And with it, a well-deserved reputation that assures their place among the best of the breed.
DOWNLOAD: “Bring Your Love to Me,” “Open-Ended Life,” “Never Been Alive”