Nutshell Album Review: The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter
That pun was not only physically painful to make, but it was necessary to explain the extent of this album. The seventh LP from The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter, is far from a bad album. Not only that, but it also makes people realize, “Hey, there’s other good folk bands than Mumford and Sons!” No offense to Mumford and co. is intended, but it’s time for the music world to start giving this North Carolina-in quintet a much needed hug. Even through the personal turmoil of the band members, they still have something small to smile about in the fact that they put together a return album that rocks in the folkiest way possible.
The Carpenter opens up with “The Once and Future Carpenter”, a song that basically ends on the album’s central theme of loving everyone and living life out to its fullest, just so death isn’t a scary thing. Next is “Live and Die”, a perfect banjo-opened song that made all fans of The Avetts jump up and scream “YES”. The reason is because the three year wait for this album is culminated right here where “Modern Folk Heaven” meets “Banjo Solo Land”. It is the easiest track to call the gem of the album, and one you definitely need to check out. “Winter In My Heart” is what follows, a sullen, slowed song that wraps up sadness into five minutes. This is truly one of the most emotional songs that’s ever reached the public, and it also is another one of the best songs on this album, if not in The Avett Brothers’ entire musical catalog.
“Pretty Girl From Michigan” turns all the emotion from the previous song inside out, and morphs into a jazzy, doo-wop masterpiece. Upbeat piano riffs, electric guitar solos, and drum break all are thrown into the mix to create a song that would even get the most stubborn feet tapping. “I Never Knew You” keeps the same tempo and sound as the previous song, but the electric guitar gets traded in for infectious acoustic chords and bass grooves. “Through My Prayers” slows the album back down but keeps the same powerful emotion heard earlier on. Another one that tugs on the heart strings, it’s a love story that didn’t end as beautifully as everyone would hope. One of the strongest lines of the record comes in this song, “I only wanted to tell you I care.” The song that follows is the minute and a half long dance track “Geraldine”, another one that drastically changes the tempo and gets you moving. The only legitimate complaint you can have about this song is how short it is.
“February Seven” is a song that sounds reminiscent of The Head and The Heart’s debut album, complete with a string section to carry the melody through the sea of deep bass and beautiful vocals. “A Father’s First Spring” is a truly emotional and touchy track. The song is a face to face confrontation with bassist Bob Crawford’s two year old daughter’s cancer diagnosis. The finished product was a polished and truly breathtaking song that leaves you speechless at this group’s power of expression. “Down With The Shine” is another one that sounds like a lot of today’s modern folk with the usual Avett Brothers spin on it. A great track for old fans and newbies alike to get the slow paced concert bop going. The album then closes with the hilariously named and equally energetic “Paul Newman Vs. The Demons” and the gentle, lovable “Life”.
The Avett Brothers have been regarded as a superpower in both modern folk music and the world of the outdoor music festival. The five-piece looked to come back strong after a three year hiatus, and their seventh album The Carpenter was able to complete that goal without a question. The emotional force that at some points comes out in tranquility is also just as easily converted into driving, faster-paced songs. That is something that is very hard to master musically, and the band pulled it off without even looking like they tried. The Carpenter gets an 89/100 and you can pick it up today.
The Carpenter Tracklisting:
- The Once and Future Carpenter
- Live and Die
- Winter In My Heart
- Pretty Girl From Michigan
- I Never Knew You
- Through My Prayers
- February Seven
- A Father’s First Spring
- Down With The Shine
- Paul Newman Vs. The Demon