Review: The Avett Brothers’ ‘Magpie’ is smooth folk

First Published      Last Updated Oct 16 2013 01:39 pm

The evolving definition of folk music currently carries a little bit of rock, a little bit of reverb and a few other nontraditional flavors thrown in the stew. It's all being well received, and The Avett Brothers' new album "Magpie and the Dandelion" should be no exception.

Songs like "Open Ended Life" and "Skin and Bones" present a folk version of rock's wall-of-sound approach. Instead of a nuanced give and take among banjo and guitar and drums, we get them all at once, side by side, vying for attention. With proper mixing, it works on these hardened-heart love songs.

Things work up a glorious crescendo on several tracks, going from simmer to boil on "Another Is Waiting," though it's worth noting that the sizzle on "Magpie" is mostly thanks to strong instrumentals. The group lacks a strong lead vocalist. Scott and Seth Avett can sing, but not convincingly enough to mesmerize the listener.

All in all, this is pleasant listening and the songs stick in the head. The North Carolina trio is a tight band eight albums into its career, and the folk renaissance has ushered in a new and deserving appreciation for this lilting nu-folk.