Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

I and Love and You by the Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers (Scott and Seth, plus bassist Bob Crawford and cellist Joe Kwon) specialize in epic sincerity played on acoustic instruments — which means that their major-label debut could have gone spectacularly wrong. Instead, almost everything went right, starting with producer Rick Rubin's decision to grant these 10-year coffeehouse and club veterans some of his bearded wisdom. Rubin stripped the band of its fetish for musical digression and focused almost exclusively on melody. As a result, the Avetts' abundant emotionalism — they're tortured about being in love, or not being in love, on nearly every song — is scaled down to something far more intimate. On the title track and the mid-tempo ballad "Laundry Room," it's like having a good friend with a honeyed voice whispering in your ear.