The Avett Brothers: I and Love and You (American, 2009)
The Avett Brothers have really given ammunition for the indieminded music freaks who have been sketching their “The Avett Brothers sold their soul” speeches since the news that the band have signed a deal with a major label arrived. Where’s the bluegrass influences and where’s the banjo? What the hell are all these piano-driven ballads and pop songs? There’s just a couple of minor issues that destroy all these understandable arguments. Scott and Seth Avett still write the finest songs in the world and The Avett Brothers is the most honest and heartfelt band around.
The Avett Brothers have been my favourite band for a couple of years. I found them few months after their previous album Emotionalism was released and it was an instant love affair. I soon bought everything I could find and found out that the earlier releases were equally amazing. Their music is just a perfect mixture of folk, country, rock, pop and bluegrass and I love how their lyrics are always so pure, honest and almost excessively emotional without sounding one bit over-sweet or over-dramatic.
After five beautiful albums, several amazing EPs and a huge success on the road, Rick Rubin signed The Avett Brothers to his label American Recordings and also produced their new album I and Love and You. Rick had a difficult job as a producer. Well at least if his job was to please The Avett Brothers fans. For people like me, they were already the greatest band there is. So basicly the move to major label could only maintain the same level of perfectness or make them sound worse then before. Thankfully they did maintain the same level of perfectness and Rick did a fine job as a producer. Of course I and Love and You does sound cleaner and more detailed, but it isn’t overpolished and it still feels alive and joyful. In the end it’s very logical continuation to The Avett Brothers story. The only surprise is that the piano takes such a major role. I can’t really complain because all the piano-driven material sounds marvellous, but maybe the ideal The Avett Brothers album for me would contain one half of this album and one half of those earlier banjo-driven songs. The song material is gorgeous throughout the record. Slight Figure Of Speech and It Goes On and On during the last stages of the album are the only ones I’m not that thrilled about. Really good pop songs for someone else, but I think there would have been even better songs in the songwriting vaults of Scott and Seth Avett. My biggest favourites at the moment are January Wedding that shows that they haven’t forgetten bluegrass influences, Laundry Room that has the most perfect lyrics (tonight I’ll burn the lyrics / ’cause every chorus was your name) and the enjoyable future pop hit Kick Drum Heart.
The Avett Brothers is still my favourite band and I and Love and You is a fabulous album. Whether one prefers the earlier rootsier albums over this new album that also has pop songs and piano ballads is a matter of opinion. I think both sides of The Avett Brothers are absolutely wonderful. And well why should I even talk about sides. It’s the same great band and I and Love and You is a very logical follow up to Emotionalism. Maybe Emotionalism will still take the album of the decade award here at the onechord headquarters, but I’m fairly confident that I and Love and You will happily settle just for the album of the year trophy.