On their 2009 breakthrough album I and Love and You, North Carolina's Avett Brothers abandoned their DIY roots, packed up their acoustic guitars and banjos, and headed to Rick Rubin's Los Angeles studio, where the guru-like producer helped shape their most ambitious record. On the follow-up, the Avetts' seventh album, they once again work with Rubin, who adds some heft to the group's most personal set of songs. Musically, The Carpenter is a tuneful record, with Scott and Seth Avett's tight harmonies, flickering solos, and occasional classic rock-style approach to folk music filling in the empty spaces. But on songs like "The Once and Future Carpenter," "Live and Die," and "February Seven," the band recalls softhearted old-timers, getting all misty-eyed and mushy as they look back on love and life. It's a midlife collision of their heads and hearts.
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