Building a Masterpiece

All it will take is just one moment to fall in love with The Avett Brothers’ The Carpenter.

Sure I’m biased, but what the heck? This album is a great addition to their discography.

The Carpenter, released Sept. 11, doesn’t sound much different than their previous stuff.  In fact, my major complaint is that there’s less banjo than on previous albums. With that being said, the lyrics on this album are the best that Seth and Scott Avett have turned out, and it’s clear they’ve matured over the past three years. Compared to the winsome and optimistic I And Love And You (2009), The Carpenter is heavier and darker.

The album kicks off with “The Once and Future Carpenter,” which sounds a lot like what the North Carolina-bred brothers have released the past several years, bluegrass-y banjo and all. However, the lyrics are a different animal compared to their past work. One of the major themes on the album is mortality, and they don’t waste time getting into it with this one.

That theme is tackled the most in “Through My Prayers,” which is arguably one of the most beautiful tracks released by any artist in 2012. The group usually has one or two tear-jerkers per album, but this one could count for a lifetime. The song will break anyone who’s lost someone too soon. It feels like an icy, pale hand slowly reaching into your chest and pulling your heart out.

While the album has a darker tone, there are still moments where you can’t help but smile at how catchy and joyful some of the tracks are. Take “Live and Die,” a delightful mix of pop and folk, which made me want to grab a guitar while wearing a button-down and a pair of jeans from The Gap. I dare you to not catch yourself singing it.

And that’s what’s so great about The Avett Brothers—this album is different than their past works, but they are still able to maintain their identity and hold onto their roots. Sure, the album is a little more rock and a little less bluegrass, and it may not be melodically novel, but that isn’t the be-all-end-all of great music. A great album just has to let you transcend reality for a little while. It has to make you feel something, and in doing that The Carpenter truly succeeds.