Avett Brothers "True Sadness"

With the release of their 9th full-length studio album the Avett Brothers focus more on depth than expanding their range of genres. That’s not to say the boys are standing pat. True Sadness resurrects some of the the early punkish blue-grass rawness of their earlier releases, but it also offers symphonic flourishes and experimental mash-ups. The soul of the album is the reflective nature of the lyrics as the band dives deeper into philosophical musings on the meaning of life, pending mortality, and spirituality, topics they began seriously exploring on The Carpenter. 

“Ain’t No Man” eases you into the album with familiar Avett musical traits. Bob Crawford’s bass bounces along-side handclaps and Seth Avett’s vocals joined by soulful backing vocals. “Mama, I Don’t Believe” is another of those honesty-drenched ballads the Avetts have delivered time and again. The guys have fun with the clever banjo jangle “Smithsonian.” It isn’t until the fifth track that you hear Producer Rick Rubin’s influence. “You Are Mine” opens with banjo but is soon over-run with electronic wizardry and spiffy production and cascading piano. “Satan Pulls the Strings” rocks with production trickery that will make the folk purist bristle and everyone else dance. “Victims of Life” beats with calypso rhythms as Seth sings about mishaps and missteps. Get up while you can because this is mostly a mellow affair. “Divorce Separation Blues” is a shuffling banjo driven country lick, sure to find its fans among the broken hearted. The biggest surprise awaiting Avett followers is the album’s finale. “May it Last” features a full orchestral chart. The strings swell and crash with the emotions of the song.

“True Sadness,” the title track, summarizes the album’s theme and offers the most obvious religious lyrics. As we age it’s inevitable that we will face challenges, loss and disappointment. The secret is to have faith in the journey, and to accept responsibility in the direction of the trek. Keep your eyes on the horizon; there is beauty in the sadness that permeates life.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)