The Carpenter was actually released last week, but I reviewed Dave Matthews Band instead (it was a great music week). I have to admit I haven't listened to this band much. Then I began to hear great things about this album, so I decided to give it a listen. I'm very glad I did.
The songs weave together serious stories about life and death. The very spiritual "The Once and Future Carpenter" tells us If I live the life I'm given / I won't be scared to die. After hearing this, I'm left contemplating the choices I've made in my own life. "Live and Die" is an upbeat banjo tune (you can never have too much banjo) proclaiming we're all the same, eventually we all die. They also sing about death from heartache in "Winter In My Heart." The seasons change but he's stuck in perpetual winter and unable to move on. It must be winter in my heart / There’s nothing warm in there at all / I miss the summer and the spring / The floating yellow leaves of fall.
Other songs are deeply rooted and tug at your heartstrings. "A Fathers First Spring" is a sweet detail of fatherhood and how hard it is to be apart from his daughter. I haven't seen you in days / And my how that feeling has changed / Oh I have been homesick for you since we met / I have been homesick for you. If you've ever lost someone with so much left to say, you can't help but be affected by "Through My Prayers." It's a true "live in the moment" kind of song. Down in my mind where I don't care to go / The pain of a lesson is letting me know / If you have love in your heart let it show... while you can.
It's not all seriousness on the album. There is plenty of balance with pop pleasures like the doo-wop "Pretty Girl From Michigan" and the bubble-gum harmonies of "I Never Knew You." "Geraldine" is also very catchy. The love songs keep the album light.
The Avett Brothers sit securely in the folk and country genre, but also access rock and pop with ease. The poetic lyrics shine with the catchy melodies and beautiful harmonies. The only thing lacking is that extra punch to surprise and grab the listener. Still a very solid album focusing on the joys and sorrows of life.