The Avetts' Americana Arrives in NOLA on December 1
Nov 13 2017

The Avetts' Americana Arrives in NOLA on December 1

By: Asdrubal Quintero

If there’s something we can all inherently appreciate about American music, it’s its ability to produce artists that can sound simultaneously home-grown and far-reaching. The Avett Brothers are a staple of Americana music and it’s not only because they’re auteurs of the folk genre. Their lineage culls a variety of great rock and country artists to make a sound that’s a perfect mix of snappy and sincere—poppy, but never too simplistic to be derided as just top 40 music. What has resulted is a band that has sold millions of records, amassed a huge following, earned several Grammy nominations, and revolutionized our ideas of folk and country music. 

Though the Avett Brothers are between albums right now, their tour is sure to capitalize on the huge catalog of music they’ve already built. Last album Magpie and the Dandelion made waves on the charts, reaching #5 on Billboard. Produced by famed hip-hop producer Rick Rubin, Magpie and the Dandelion cleans up a lot of the rougher edges that persisted through the band’s music. Magpie forgoes the patchwork-like sound that was a trend on their earlier albums in favor of a more vulnerable and gentle statement. The rollicking country-rock sounds of albums past are replaced by twinkly, guitar- and piano-driven ballads. The result is an album that sounds more organic, truthful, and sincere. 

Opener “Open Ended Life” is an anthem in non-commitment; liberation, moving on, and rethinking all becoming recurring themes on the album. On “Morning Song,” it means being able to deal with the hurt of an ending relationship. “Bring Your Love to Me” and “Never Been Alive” trade quips on what it means to be needed. Ultimately though, it’s “The Clearness is Gone” that makes the album’s clearest conclusion: that we’re really nothing except for what we find in love. 

But, it’s never just doom and gloom on the Avett Brothers albums (despite the ballad-heavy sounds of Magpie). “Another is Waiting” gets dangerously close to sounding like country-inflected punk (The Avett Brothers have a singing voice that recalls other punk rockers). But, its anthemic sounds belie its message: how people slowly get eaten alive by image-consciousness to the point of death. Again, like in other songs, the only thing that’ll save the protagonist is love. “Vanity,” in nearly a reversal of “Another is Waiting,” questions the sincerity behind people’s emotions. Leave it to the Avett Brothers to make some serious commentary with some jangly tunes. 

If Magpie succeeds, it’s because it combines all of the band’s best assets. Pop hooks pour out of every track, but never at the sacrifice of rich songwriting. Love is never a new topic to explore in music, but the band spends time perfectly crafting every direction we could possibly take in our thinking about love. Whether it be needing love to save others, or questioning how profound our connections are with one another. The sincerity behind their songwriting is only augmented by Rick Rubin’s minimalist approach to the production. Tracks sound borderline acoustic. Never unpolished, but the instrumentation is left simple and reflective. What’s created is an album that’s a perfect balance of truthfulness and catchiness. 

The Avett Brothers accomplish what not many artists can do easily: combining artistic integrity with a great pop sensibility. It’s easy to understand how quickly people were able to gravitate toward their music. Anyone looking for a great show, look no further. 

The Avett Brothers will be making their way down to the Big Easy on Friday, December 1. Between the heartfelt ballads and big stadium numbers, this is sure to be a show that you don’t want to miss. 

The Avett Brothers play the Saenger Theatre on Friday, December 1, at 7:30 p.m. For more information or to buy tickets, go to livenation.com. 

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