Since releasing "The Gleam", the first in the series, in April of 2007, Scott and Seth, joined by Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon, as the group "The Avett Brothers", have been quite busy. Traveling frequently due to a whirlwind tour promoting their full length album "Emotionalism", winning a few Americana Music Awards and appearing on Late Night with Conan O'Brian, one can only wonder how the two brothers themselves fit in time to write and record this EP, which is nothing less than luscious instrumentally, lyrically and vocally.
Consisting of eight tracks, two more than on the first, "The Second Gleam" has mostly originals, with one from Seth Avett thrown in from his solo "Darling Series", much to this listeners joy. The brothers seem to split the bill on this EP as well, with four tracks from Scott and four from Seth.
"Tear Down the House" begins the EP with the singer lamenting the loss of his roots, which seem to encompass his own sense of self, due to modernization or 'progress'. One is immediately drawn into the song, as The Avetts, even as a duo, are quite recognizable not only in their vocal quality, but their unique instrumentation as well.
"Murdered In the City" comes next. Now I first heard this one back in September of 2006, at The Avett Brothers show in Greensboro, NC. Scott Avett took the stage alone and sang it solo. As I recall there weren't too many dry eyes in the place by the end of this wonderful song, and their was some laughter at some of the more humorous lines. The song tells of family ties, questions of sibling favoritism and the strength of family. True to the Avett nature, this one hits close to home for many.
"Bella Donna" is track three. This tune stems from, as I had mentioned before, Seth Avetts sojourn as a soloist in his "Darling Series" of albums. First recorded on his "Killing the Headlamps" CD in 2002, which has been out of circulation for some time, and performed sparingly during The Avett Brothers live shows, this unique gem certainly makes this EP stand out even more for the avid listener.
"The Greatest Sum (acoustic version)" immediately plays with the heartstrings and may prove to become as poplar as The Avett Brothers now infamous romantic "Swept Away (sentimental version)" from their full length album "Mignonette". This fourth track is a love song in the truest sense of the term. Quite heartfelt, it builds on promises of the strength of the singers affection, which runs deep, despite adversity. The melody becomes light hearted which proves a perfect foil for the seriousness of the lyrics. Scott Avett is vocally arresting on this one, to say the least.
"Black, Blue" is track five; a song that drips with despondency, loss and solitude. Emotionally raw lyrically, this song, however, highlights the vocal talent of Seth Avett in ways not heard since his earlier days as "Darling". His soft, gentle and, yes, beautiful voice sometimes tends to get lost in The Avett Brothers ripping and roaring tunes of late. Yet, once again, we are given the chance to hone in on this artists true musical ability, however morose and lamenting the song may be.
"St. Joseph's" is a tune that tells something of a story; a story of reassurances of partnership, of "being there". Sung by Scott Avett, this song is simply refreshing in it's simplicity and clarity.
"Souls Like the Wheels" is the second to last track. This one disparages of the singer's past and his wish for that past to "let him go." Using the power of a 'simple song' and the love of a girl, the singer seems to achieve this goal by the end of the song.
"Greatest Sum (Electric Version)" is the final track to this unique collection. Performed earlier on the EP acoustically, this version, however, sound not be missed. The electric instrumentation, combined with the deeper, gravelly quality of Scott Avett's vocals, along with Seth Avett's softer, smooth voice as backup, makes for a much deeper, soul wrenching song then previous. It does prove interesting that both versions were included on the same EP. This just goes further to exemplify the Avetts true ability to be diverse in their music, yet again making it even more difficult to pigeonhole them into one musical genre.
With the release of this newest EP by the duo, much has been going on in the land of the group "The Avett Brothers". Recently announcing that they are working on yet another full length album, this time with Rick Rubin, they have also announced signing with American/Columbia Records. Along with this news, they continue with their seemingly never ending tour schedule.
Scott Avett is also a consummate painter, whose art work will be shown at the Envoy Gallery in New York City from July 31 - August 29. You can learn more about this side of him at www.scottavett.com.
One cannot help but be excited for these talented artists, as individuals, as a duo and as a group of four. They have come a long way since their days of the 'underground rock/punk' group "Oh, What A Nightmare" to what is now the musical wonder that has become "The Avett Brothers."
- by Jennifer Harp