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Emotionalism-The Avett Brothers

(Ramseur)

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The Avett Brothers must have done some-thing really wrong. The North Carolina trio's fifth studio album, Emotionalism, is full of lyrics about shame, paranoia, regret, and self-loathing. It would be unbearably grim if the brothers-plus-one didn't express it all with their typical good humor and graceful bluegrass-based arrangements. The opening "Die Die Die" makes a sing-along chorus out of its title, making merry with its intimations of mortality, while "Shame" marries dark thoughts to a lilting melody delivered in the Brothers' typically intuitive harmonies. As always, their sound is hard to pin down, combining country instrumentation, jazz chops, punk vitality, and jam-band looseness into a distinctive whole that's nothing to be ashamed of at all. ("Shame," "Will You Return?")

— Stephen Deusner

Grade: B+

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