The Avett Brothers return to the music scene with their first record in five years, a self-titled album presenting a collection of nine raw new tracks, produced by the legendary Rick Rubin. Sonically, the record is wildly unique and blends the best elements of folk and rock to create a distinct sound that only The Avett Brothers could offer.

The project opens with a warm, sublime vocal moment that reaches into the ear of the listener and caresses it tenderly, almost as though the band is reintroducing itself in the most intimate manner possible. Once the gentle introduction piece concludes, it’s quite the 180 into the next track (and the album’s first single), ‘Love of a Girl’.

‘Love of a Girl’ steps out of the acoustic folk-route and leans into a more folk-rock oriented lane. Perhaps bizarrely, it takes me back to the early 2000’s punk rock scene, gravitating in similarity to bands such as Harvey Danger and Anarbor.  Although there is a familiarity about the sound, The Avett Brothers are able to take that familiarity and turn it on its head, injecting life into the 2000s rock vibe and altering it to make it feel more current.

Whilst the band’s upbeat tracks are a thrill to embrace, their mid-tempo compositions truly allow them to flourish. ‘Cheap Coffee’ is genuinely intriguing, the structure of the song is creative and the subtle harmonies are exquisite. I also greatly appreciate the fact that the track is lengthy in duration, it’s a welcomed change to the industry’s current fixation with two-minute tracks that can be used as trends for TikTok. Moving through to ‘Forever Now”, Rubin’s production is absolutely pristine here, it’s stripped back to perfection and allows the band to truly excel. The instrumental can only be described as pulchritudinous and it flows effortlessly in conjunction with the singer’s flawless vocal runs – hands down the standout track from the self-titled project.

‘Country Kid’ is an ambitious feat, the sound takes you out of the flow of the record somewhat but as a standalone track it’s certainly still entertaining. It’s written in the form of a Johnny Cash B-Side, depicting upbeat storytelling that eventually bursts into a Kid Rock type of chorus. The song has an infectious energy about it and although it’s not my favourite from the record, it still demands attention and makes for a fun listen.

The next standout from the album is ‘2020 Regret’, a vulnerable ballad that once again exemplifies the band on top form, with heart-breaking strings that elevate the essence of the song. The composition is almost unbearably relatable and is best suited to a listen while sipping a Jack Daniels beside the roar of an open fire – you may need tissues. It reminds me of an Alan Jackson classic that you listen to on the open road, tears oozing with the radio cranked to full volume. ‘2020 Regret’ stands toe to toe with ‘Forever Now’, two wonderful tracks that truly showcase the talent of both The Avett Brothers and Rubin as a producer.

‘Same Broken Bones’ is quite glorious, starting out a-cappella was a genius move, it allows the instrumental to trickle in and support the moving harmonies heard throughout. The track will almost certainly prove to be a deep-cut gem that future fans will be thrilled to discover. Closing with ‘We Are Loved’ shows that the record has been thought-out to the finest detail, the track works incredibly well as an outro. ‘We Are Loved’, a melancholy sound juxtaposed with hopeful lyrics is exactly what the band needed to sign off a lovely collection of tracks.

Overall, The Avett Brothers have crafted a solid body of work that allows their talent to bleed throughout. There are upbeat moments and country-esque curveballs interjected into a project that stands at its strongest when presenting ballads and mid-tempo arrangements. I have nothing but the highest praise for Rick Rubin’s hand in solely producing the entire record, ensuring it still felt cohesive, even with the exploration of different genres throughout. Although it may have taken some five years, the music industry feels a little brighter with the presence of The Avett Brothers.

The Avett Brothers: The Avett Brothers – Out 17th May 2024 (Ramseur Records/American Recordings/Thirty Tigers)

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