The Avett Brothers continue charting the same musical course as EMOTIONALISM and MIGNONETTE on major-label debut I AND LOVE AND YOU, despite the presence of hands-on producer Rick Ruben. The country-folk duo continue to add elements of pop and hillbilly rock to a country/bluegrass foundation on the 2009 LP, a record with a newfound emphasis on piano and nuanced arrangements. Working with a larger budget allows the group to add small flourishes -- a cello line here, a keyboard crescendo there -- but the resulting music is rarely grand, focusing on textures rather than sheer volume. Scott and Seth Avett share vocals throughout the album, delivering their lyrics in a speak-sing cadence that sounds both tuneful and conversational. Given the opportunities presented here -- the ability to flank their melodies with string sections, organ swells, and Harmonium -- the two devote more focus to slower songs, eschewing the barn-burning bouncefests of their previous albums for material that better displays such sonic details. The result is an intimate, poignant album, laced with rich production that enhances, not clouds, the songwriting itself.
Rolling Stone (p.81) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "I AND LOVE AND YOU is packed with complex, piano-based beauties."
Spin (p.90) - "The have always evoked the Band's MUSIC FROM BIG PINK, but this album's epic sweep and dramatic lyrical imagery enlarges that influence to the scale of arena-rock sing-alongs."
Spin (p.29) - Ranked #33 in Spin's "40 Best Albums Of 2009" -- "I AND LOVE AND YOU is a sublime, down-yonder sing-along in a minor key."
Billboard (p.84) - "[T]he song 'Heart Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise' is a swelling epic with a title to match..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.93) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[N]early every song comes steeped in acoustic piano while the vocals are pitched to eke out every last chunk of substance from well-honed lyrics..."
Paste (magazine) (p.52) - "The Avett Brothers are experts in mining the heart and soul of the modern American man....They've constructed something beautiful..."
Uncut (magazine) (p.83) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[The production] has proved transformative, turning a rambunctious bluegrass-inflected group into something more dramatic."