The Avett Brothers may not be a household name, and your odds of hearing them on any radio station not on a college campus is very slim. Many Avett Brothers fans, or for that matter any listener involved in the folk scene, may or may not have been twisted out of their seat when they heard that The Avetts' new album I and Love and You was to be produced by none other than Rick Rubin. Well, now… Rick Rubin, this just about changes everything. The man, the legend — notably one of the most celebrated and successful producers of our time — has just come on board and rearranged, reduced and, for lack of a better word, fathered The Avett Brothers' latest record I and Love and You.
Let’s see what happens now. Take these bluegrass, folk-punk, foolish young boys from Concord, North Carolina. Tear them off of their front porch, rip the blade of straw right out of their mouths and put them on the fast track. With a record deal from American Recordings/Columbia Records, now everything is changed. Attach good ol’ Rubin’s name to everything Avett-related and you’ve got solidarity. You’ve got promotion all in one simple step. Hello, Rolling Stone; let’s talk about “Artist to Watch!” Never mind the near decade these brothers have been tossing out records, and touring their Levi’s off in the most respectable of ways. We now have a major label album; we have instruments orchestrated subtly, and lyrics suitable for the likes of the National Public Radio.
Let’s pause. First and foremost I need to make note of the talent and adroitness that these brothers possess. In every sense of the way an artist could have utterly and truly “worked for it,” these guys honorably deserve every bit of success they will and have attained. A certain sensation came over me just a short time after hearing about the Rick Rubin production — that sensation happened as I was standing in line at Starbucks. Not that I wish to attach the words “sold out” to their name, ever! But I can’t help but be somewhat irritated by this. Yep, I and Love and You can officially be purchased alongside your doppio espresso. Well, I guess you know you’ve made it when your album is located right next to the biscotti, and the new Michael Buble CD. What’s next, a guest appearance on The View?
It’s one of those things. Rick Rubin can either ruin your name — or make it.
I and Love and You is pure brilliance; a masterpiece constructed very much the same way an orchestra is developed. Each song is in the perfect slot, every instrument is placed behind the correct theme. The banjo is tuned up, or tuned down according to the acoustic emotion expected. The songs roll on down the album line; pulling you up and in to every sentiment they are trying to portray. Cut as flawless as a diamond, but then again do we expect anything less from Rick Rubin’s record mastering?
The album is a transitioning, not just in their ways as musicians, but as boys growing on into adulthood. It holds all the things any of us have ever felt in our mid-20s and early 30s but didn’t think anyone would understand. This album is the dedication to those years, those feelings translated into songs, so beautifully posed and never before put with such ease. All things concerning love, trust, friends, family, and the struggles within all of those — they are all dealt with here on I and Love and You. The next step is simply to listen.
Everything you thought you knew about The Avett Brothers you realize somewhere down by track seven, you really didn’t know — but you are damn sure learning.
All of this information left me with some feelings of uncertainty. Not so much doubt, but I realized that The Avett Brothers had a lot to prove. If this album were to really resonate as deep as it was meant to sit, I would need to see one hell of a live performance for me to believe all the hype.
Playing to a nearly sold out House of Blues in Boston on a snowy Sunday night, it would seem that neither the day of the week, nor the blustery weather deterred The Avetts from coming in and leaving blood, sweat, and tears up on the stage. The Avett Brothers are not just a duo; the band consists of Seth Avett, Scott Avett, and Bob Crawford. They turned the show into a quartet by adding the very talented cello player Joe Kwon. Nevertheless you would never be able to tell they are not all related, the vibes surging from their performance together was as connected as it ever could be.