Emotionalism from The Avett Brothers is the defining, emotionally-arresting statement of the new indie alternative folk movement. Melding rock, punk, jazz and gospel, The Avetts are reinventing roots music. They've become one of the hottest grassroots touring bands in recent memory with shows that have become the stuff of legend. Their signature intensity has catapulted them from tiny college pubs to Bonnaroo. With Emotionalism and a massive U.S. headlining tour that includes Coachella, Bumbershoot and Telluride, The Avett Brothers are poised to break wide open.
Though the banjo might seem to relegate this decidedly non-bluegrass trio to the alt-country fringes, the buoyant melodies and heart-tugging harmonies on the album-opening "Die Die Die" and "Will You Return?" owe more to the early Beatles. Despite the stripped-down, largely acoustic arrangements, the 14 cuts here cover an impressively expansive musical terrain, with "Pretty Girl from Chile" and "Pretty Girl from San Diego" full of twists and surprises. Elsewhere there are echoes of influence from the Band, the Burritos, the Everlys, and beyond, but the music of this North Carolina family band refuses to be pigeonholed. --Don McLeese