Album of the Week: 'I and Love and You' by The Avett Brothers

I and Love and You  is the 2009 album from The Avett Brothers and their first album with major label American Recordings. They have released 7 albums, 4 EPs and 3 live albums. They have long been at the forefront of the Americana movement. They have mastered many genres including folk, bluegrass, pop, rock & roll, country and even a little punk thrown in for good measure.

From this mastery they have created a distinct sound featuring haunting vocals and through doing this have set themselves apart from the pack. Having seen them live when they were touring to support this album, it provided an indelible insight into the effect they have had on their fans and the audiences they amass.

The thing that makes this band and this album so appealing is that is it is a genuine outlook from real people. These aren’t the candy coded vignettes of pop stars or the hard core bragging of rockers. These are the confessions of an honest person’s inner struggles, their successes and their failures.

Listening to this album, it is apparent that no emotional stone has been left unturned. Thus providing a peak into life experiences as told through the sensitive souls of musicians. The sacrifices that keep them up at night and the hope that gets them up in the morning. It is a truly poignant record, a slice of life or rather humanity.

The album is sewn together with the gentle reflections and ruminations of a life that has been lived. Currently composed of brothers Scott and Seth Avett, Bob Crawford, Joe Kwan and Mike Marsh, they have created a partnership that is apparent.

Being in a band, it has been said, is similar to being in a marriage. The dedication to their music pours from every rhythm and rhyme that is captured on each song.

It is a fair assessment that The Avett Brothers have been ignored by the mainstream press and awards seasons have been no better. A band simmering on the outer limits of being on the “inside” and having enough proximity to know what being on the “inside” is all about.

They haven’t needed the back patting of the awards or press to create this gem of an album, a reward; one could imagine; that is far greater than any other recognition could bring. I and Love and You is filled with heart wrenching tales of victories mixed with the self-doubts coming from defeats and mirroring lyrics that tie the album together.

This isn’t an album where care was only shown to a few songs that could be “hits”. Every song has been crafted, carved and sculpted with deep consideration. There isn’t a bad song on this record. It is a flawless piece of music. The lyrics, sheer poetry.

An example of the cohesion of each song is evident when the allegory of cages is used in the titular track “I and Love and You” the lyrics saying “Your dreams to catch the world, the cage” and then in “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” with the accompanying lyrics “Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it”. 

 It’s these symbolic threads that weave a tapestry of overwhelming sentiment. Then on “Ten Thousand Words” and “Slight Figure of Speech”, while not in the same tempo; they share a parallel theme delivered in different ways. Similarly “The Perfect Space” and “Ill with Want” discusses the longing to belong and finally find the peace that comes with contentment.

All of this while acknowledging that only through the pain of wanting more, can we can find the very things we desire, the pitfalls of ambition holding us captive to possible unhappiness.

As much as this music will sooth you, it will have you meditating on its deeper meaning and perhaps only the meaning you can derive from it individually. See with The Avett Brothers they want you to hear every word without the blast of over-percussion filled bases.

These are their words, their philosophies. It has been said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” similarly, it could be said that the meaning of songs can only be known to its beholder. The only way you can start finding this record’s personal meaning to you, is to give it a listen.