The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter

Jillian Mapes

By Jillian Mapes

on 09.11.12 in Reviews

The Carpenter

The Avett Brothers
It’s the slow-growers, not the pop songs, that sparkle

On “Down with the Shine,” the Avett Brothers sing, “It’s a real bad time to bring up the truth,” but that doesn’t stop them from doing so. On their latest album The Carpenter, the North Carolina group stares down mortality with a frankness not uncommon to country outlaws. Although it is informed in part by the fact that bassist Bob Crawford’s young daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the darkness of the acoustic dirges (“The Once and Future Carpenter,” “Life”) are tempered by poppy, piano-laden songs like “Pretty Girl From Michigan” that hardly qualify as folk or Americana – a pattern the group introduced on its Rick Rubin-produced major label debut, 2009′s I and Love and You. “Geraldine” and album highlight “Paul Newman vs. The Demons” channel the energetic “grunge-grass” band the Avett Brothers were when they began 12 years ago. That sense of history won’t be lost on the diehard fans who have watched the band inch its way toward commercial success while younger folk-rock acts like Mumford & Sons became instant chart-toppers. Fittingly, it’s not the pop songs on The Carpenter that sparkle – it’s the slow-growers.