The Avett Brothers broke out in 2009 with major label debut I and Love and You (QRO review), a Rick Rubin-produced slice of straight-up Americana. Last year saw them follow up that breakthrough in fine fashion with The Carpenter (QRO review). Now comes Magpie and the Dandelion, rather quickly because it was culled from Carpenter recording sessions (also with Rubin). After two such strong albums, and being an ‘extras’ record, Magpie couldn’t match prior things Avett, but is still a nice release.
The Avett Brothers have always been country-folk without any ‘indie’ or ‘alt-’ prefix, and Magpie stays that way, if not expanding the sound like prior records. Opener “Open Ended Life” has country-twang rock in spades, while there’s also intimate folk harmonies in pieces like “Bring Your Love To Me” and “Apart From Me”. If one likes the completely not ironic “I’m sorry” song “Good To You”, you’re gonna love The Avett Brothers. Otherwise, look elsewhere, hipster-haters.
Quick follow-up ‘from the same recording session’ records like Magpie and the Dandelion naturally can’t be as good as their predecessor – otherwise those tracks would have made it onto the first release. However, Magpie does stand on its own, much like The Avett Brothers at this stage in their career.