The Avett Brothers The Gleam

On The Gleam, the mysterious Avett Brothers subvert their penchant for energetic country rock for introspective, sombre folk. The Avetts divide six songs evenly here, and it’s telling that three are forlorn and three are almost jaunty. If the first two songs draw early Uncle Tupelo comparisons, then "Sanguine” is the solemn Jay Farrar tune, while "When I Drink” is the personable, hokey hangover Jeff Tweedy contribution. The Avetts occasionally blur the line between bold and bland, such as on "Yardsale,” a stark, self-conscious song about a neighbourhood gathering gone awry. While it’s unclear whether it’s Scott or Seth, "Backwards with Time” reveals the Avett brother with the most dynamic vocal approach and engaging observational narrative style. Despite its melancholy imagery, there’s a vibrant urgency to "If It’s the Beaches” thanks to a subtle use of ambient noise and instrumentation. Though it occasionally comes across as overly earnest and plain spoken, The Gleam is an enchanting alt-folk contribution from the Avett Brothers. (Ranseur)