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CD Review: The Avett Brothers' I and Love and You

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The Deal: Concord-based band releases major-label debut.

The Good: One of the biggest question marks after The Avetts had signed with Columbia was, "What will Rick Rubin do with them?!?" The answer, thankfully, is leave them alone. The best part of the band's latest effort is that nothing has changed. The songwriting is some of the band's strongest to date and the music is just as fulfilling as you hope. Themes of love soak through the album's 13 tracks in various formats – from the title track to "January Wedding" and "Kick Drum Heart." Fans attending the band's video shoot a couple months ago were lucky enough to hear a few tracks from the disc played live. The album continues the tradition of the band being a bit more mellow in the studio as opposed to the energetic and frantic live shows. The vocals are crystal clear, the mix of instruments coming through just the same. Bits of the cello of Joe Kwon and hints of organ hit at the right moments. Seth and Scott's vocals form fantastic harmonies on songs such as "Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise." There's a bit of the raw edge contained on "Kick Drum Heart" and "And It Spread." There is simple artistry in the poetic lyrics that conjure images instantly in the listener's mind – you could sense every ounce of emotion on "The Perfect Space." The band offers more of its folk side on "Ten Thousand Words," while hints of something bluegrass comes through on "January Wedding."

The Bad: I'm not trying to sugarcoat a local band's album. Though I think the band's live show is simply awesome, I wasn't a big fan of Emotionalism. There's nothing I can complain about.

The Verdict: Again, it's not because they are local. This is easily one of the best overall albums I've heard this year – instrumentation, lyrically, sonically, etc.

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