The Avett Brothers, Four Thieves Gone–The Robbinsville Sessions (2006)

It is difficult to summarize the Avett Brothers’ music in a single phrase, for the simple reason is that there is nothing else like it. The best I can do is that this is folk music, but on steroids—in fact, a rather large dose of strong steroids. They may use traditional instruments and look rather sedate (notice the ties), but this is a group that delights in bending the edges and keeping its fans off balance. The more I listen to them, the more a single impression keeps coming to mind: the Avett Brothers absolutely love making music, and have more fun performing than would seem fair.

I wonder if this blade ran through someone’s side
The blood wiped away to hide
How evil your grandfather was ‘fore he died
But war can make monsters out of us all
I’m sure I’d become one if I was called
And then it would be my blade
Here at this yardsale

The guitar I am holding is way out of tune
The neck it is warped and the saddle is through
I wonder if sweet music ever was played
From the hands of a boy to a girl in the shade
From this rickety ghost of a song
Here at this yardsale

A dollar for anything here on this quilt
A price tag for hands from which all things are built
A blanket of voices speak pleasure in shame
Flowers of plastic and fruit of the same
A basket of nothing at all
Here at this yardsale

So if I had the money I’d buy everything
And cover the whole lot with good gasoline
And burn it for all that I care for the past
And rid mother earth of what never should last
And give her the present of ash
Made of a yardsale
[“Yardsale” on The Gleam (2006)]