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Album Review

A whole lot about love

October 5, 2009

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Bluegrass/Country/Rock
The Avett Brothers I and Love and You
American Recordings
ESSENTIAL “And It Spread’’
The Avett Brothers play the House of Blues on Oct. 18.

Even if there wasn’t a single note of music on the Avett Brothers’ major label debut, “I and Love and You,’’ the disc itself would be worth a look for the exquisitely wrought “mission statement’’ on the inside cover.

Seth Avett - one-third of the North Carolina roots rock trio - breaks down the worlds of meanings in those three words (I love you), from unconditional to malevolent. He celebrates the expressions of the band in that same spirit calling the album a “milestone and an arrival.’’

Luckily, the music contained on the album - which expounds on those three words within the context of friendships, families, and romances - amply lives up to the grace contained in the liner notes.

With Rick Rubin at the helm, employing his trademark austerity but not overdoing the dryness, the group swings for the fences musically, lyrically, vocally, and emotionally. Its batting average is sterling.

From the guts-out vocal of the lilting rocker “And It Spread’’ to the quaint mixture of bitter and sweet on “January Wedding,’’ the group knits together its influences with aplomb. “The Perfect Space’’ hitches the dusty beauty of The Band to the short sharp shock of the Pixies, exposing instrumental dexterity and pathos.

Simply put, this is one of the best records of 2009.

SARAH RODMAN