The Avett Brothers can be really hit or miss for me, but they’ve written a few albums that I would consider to be truly great. For the uninitiated, I would recommend Emotionalism, I, And Love, And You, and The Second Gleam. The Gleam albums are Scott and Seth’s more stripped down offerings. The brother’s alternative to their more raucous and fully instrumented studio albums, The Gleams are often just their two voices and a lightly picked accompanying guitar.
I don’t write ’cause I don’t think
I started my listen of The Third Gleam as the weather here in NYC just started to turn. Immediately I’m sitting on the front porch of my apartment in Tuscaloosa. I’m 21 and too earnest for my own good. It just feels raw. It’s the first album that feels like the week it was released. The second song is about a school shooting. The third is a prison song. A repeating rotation of love songs and story songs follow. If you’re familiar with the Avett’s more toned down outings, it’s more of the same, but perhaps in a more refined style and mature subject matter.
From victory I accept defeat.
This is an album with years of perspective. The Second Gleam gave us “Murder in the City”, it’s counterpart on the Third is “I Should Have Spent the Day with My Family”, which replaces the hypothetical loss of oneself and their acceptance of that with the overwhelming and very real fear and sadness we all feel about the things we see on the news and imagining them happening to those we love.
The word everything don’t cover what you lose.
The Third Gleam succeeds at bringing me to the same place the second did, which is impressive given the 12 year span between them. It demonstrates both emotional growth and lyrical ability in a way that feels appropriate for the year without being so overwrought it’s unlistenable outside of our current context.