Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Album Review: The Avett Brothers -Magpie And The Dandelion

The Avett Brothers
Magpie And The Dandelion
** out of *****

The last few years have rocketed The Avett Brothers to success, looking to capitalize on that winning wave the band has put out Magpie And The Dandelion incredibly quickly, maybe a bit more time was needed. This is the band's second release to be produced by Rick Rubin, following on the heels of their multi-Grammy winning The Carpenter from last year. 

Restrained from the get go the band focuses on ballads and song writing, but things are muted and dull compared to past efforts, whether it is the scattered incomplete phrases or forced refrains that would read better on a t-shirt then sound in an ear. When you slow things down and take'r easy the main focus is on the songs and the production.

On the song front, things are middle of the road to weak. Opener "Open Ended Life" has a rambling feel with changes and bright sound, turning out to be the best track. The piano led "Good To You" runs long moving from a "Norwegian Wood" vibe to Elton John and back again in an odd manner.  "Morning Song" employs female singers for the closing chorus that feels forced and poppy. "Vanity" is best skipped with it's overwhelming pomp while "Apart From Me" has a pleasant if dull tone however the delicate (live sounding) "Souls Like The Wheels" is a good little gem. .

As for the production, there is lush instrumentation and crisp playing but also clear times ("Never Been Alive", "Skin And Bones") when things would better taking the simplistic folkise route. As it stands the overall disk moves dangerously close to late 70's in LA overproduction.  With music like this, less is usually more, the back porch fits these things better then a recording studio, and things teeter perilously over a sea of cheese ("Bring Your Love To Me").

Mainstream folk isn't a bad thing, the worst it ever becomes is forgettable, never offensive, Magpie And The Dandelion contributes no real standouts and only one clunker, "Vanity". A snooze, but not a totally unpleasant one.
Happy for this band, and glad they became so popular as they have clear talent and song writing chops, but this one just didn't do it for me.

Support the band here, buy the album here, peep some video here: 
"Morning Song" Live

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