The Avett Brothers Explore Life, Love and Heartbreak on New LP “True Sadness”

Featured image via Mike Bouchard

Reviewed by Dan Cousart

The Avett Brothers, an established American folk rock band, blend the sounds of the contemporary with tradition on their new record True Sadness, released on June 24th through American Records. Led by Scott and Seth Avett, True Sadness covers all sorts of moods and tempos starting off with the gospel-meets-country stomp, “Ain’t No Man”. “Mama, I Don’t Believe” and “No Hard Feelings” pull on the heartstrings with a folk rock sound reminiscent of Bob Dylan and the Band accompanied by the Avetts’ classic soulful vocals.

Album Art courtesy of Republic Records

Album Art courtesy of American Records

“Mama, I Don’t Believe” and “No Hard Feelings” also showcase Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon’s abilities as a premier string section. “Smithsonian” brings out the countryside and the humor of the Avett Brothers with the opening line, “Call the Smithsonian, I’ve made a discovery, life ain’t forever and lunch isn’t free.” Though the Avetts are established as a folk band, they are beginning to embrace a variety of  sounds. This is evident on their previous effort, Magpie and the Dandelion, and on certain tracks from True Sadness.

“You Are Mine” sees the Avetts experimenting with electronica and grooves commonly associated with EDM. “Satan Pulls the Strings” sees the band going electric and digging into a heavy delta blues influenced jam that would surely be great to see in a live setting. The title track, “True Sadness”, sits right in the middle of the record. The song is an uptempo groove brought to life by the Avett Brothers’ harmonies and the chugging electric guitar beneath. “I Wish I Was” is a very intimate song that stays loyal to the Avetts’ traditional song. Lyrics explore day to day life and a sense of longing in a relationship. “Fisher Road to Hollywood” talks of past experiences that is gently carried by an acoustic guitar and a violin.

“Victims of Life” is the last big burst of energy on the record that is reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel and other folk greats. The percussion in this track creates a great happy atmosphere that would fit very nicely on almost any summer playlist. The second to last track, “Divorce Separation Blues,” is as traditional of a country song as it gets.

Heartbreak is a big topic on this record. Most of these songs probably allude to Seth’s divorce from his wife, but that’s ok, because it is never directly stated or overbearing in the music. Afterall, music can be great therapy. The album closes with “May It Last”, a waltz accompanied by huge drums, a string section and a surprisingly psychedelic twist. “May It Last” is a bit of a shock at the end of the record, and one might confuse the middle section for a Tame Impala song at first, but the Avetts find a way to bring it back down to their world and close the record on a note that leaves you wanting more.

What did you think of True Sadness? Comment below!

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