Sometimes you just want something simple and non-showy, a storyline scaled to human dimension, craftsmanship that doesn’t call attention to itself, and an emotional response that is genuinely earned, not cheaply manipulated out of you. Few contemporary musical acts (regardless of genre) do all that as consistently and as well as the Avett Brothers. They’ve taken their slew of music heroes and references – including folk, punk, country, bluegrass, rock, and a dollop of pop – and distilled it into something very much their own, with a gorgeously melancholic male vulnerability being one of their primary colors. With Rick Rubin back at the helm in the studio (he produced their current album True Sadness,) they’ve perfectly calibrated their sound.
The band’s new single “No Hard Feelings” is suffused with Christian beliefs and references but is utterly void of dogma or smugness. There is tenderness in the lyrics, in the words themselves and the way they’re sung as the song’s protagonist makes peace with both death and the life being left behind. The wisdom shared – the futility of holding on to hard feelings; an appreciation for the small but powerful things in life – is homespun but not corny, and is uplifting and moving in equal doses.
Top image courtesy Bryce Duffy.