Let’s find something new to talk about. I’m tired of talking about myself. So say the lyrics of the Avett Brothers tune “Open Ended Life,” from an album released a couple years ago. But, as they make their way to Red Butte Garden on Tuesday night, and after their last album, True Sadness, fans should expect lots of talking about the Avetts. The main theme of the album, as you may have guessed, is heart-sickness and most of the songs were written in the wake of Seth’s fairly scandalous divorce.
Now on the heels of a Judd Apatow-produced documentary about the band, I can’t see less talk about themselves happening anytime soon.
For a good snapshot of the band’s evolution, compare the perhaps a little too on-the-nose “Divorce Separation Blues” from True Sadness to “Shame” from 2007’s Emotionalism. Both are about failed relationships—one is a self-centered view of how the end of a relationship affected the narrator while the other is a tender apology for cross words and poor judgement. I know which I prefer, in life and in song.
So, lately the navel-gazing is more present than it was when the boys from North Carolina were writing a slew of bluegrassy songs titled “Pretty Girl From (insert town name here)” and the music has matured along with the subject matter True Sadness features synthesizers. For those of us who are Avett fans, this is a Dylan Goes Electric moment and I know I’ll be interested to see how the new sounds are incorporated into their live show. This is a far departure from the not-quite-country, not-quite-rock-and-roll sound that has had them selling out venues—including Red Rocks and Madison Square Garden—for years. But it is not a bad departure
Behold! There’s good news! The Avett Brothers are always a rollocking good time. Brothers Seth and Scott have endless energy, along with their ever-expanding band on stage. They play the songs you know from soundtracks, and their Utah crowds always know the back catalog. The harmonies area always tight. And even when the subject matter is less cheerful, Joe Kwan’s cello playing is sure to put a smile on your face.
The Avett Brothers play Red Butte Tuesday, July 3. The show is sold out, but you know what to do.