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The Avett Brothers

Live, Volume 3 – 2010 (Columbia)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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There's no mystery to what The Avett Brothers sound like live because "Live, Volume 3" already represents the brothers' third official concert recording. Captured in Charlotte, N.C. in August 2009, right there in the guys' home state, these 16 songs touch upon the unusually wide range of emotions and styles covered by The Avett Brothers.

You can hear a bit of the act's punk roots on Talk on Indolence, where vocals are shouted at one point, much more than sung. Yet the words to Murder in the City sweetly fix upon family issues while all the while imagining what the consequences would be to being murdered.

Only 4 songs are performed from "I and Love and You," the group's most recent 2009 studio recording. Therefore, this set is much more than just live versions of the brothers' most recent songs. These guys could never be true punks again, one imagines, because as rough as The Avett Brothers become during Talk on Indolence, they are equally soft with I and Love and You. With its mournful piano and regretful lyric, this song shows off The Avett Brothers' sensitive side. But as introspective as they are while singing it, the lyric speaks of an inability to say the words, "I love you." Sometimes it's easier for musicians to put their deepest thoughts into song, rather than say them out loud. That's the nature of the creative beast, one supposes.

Furthermore, the lyric to Shame speaks of embarrassment as only Southerners can. Southern Baptist guilt may be just as strong, if not stronger, than the Catholic variety. However, there's no shame in flat-out loving The Avett Brothers. These guys never cease to charm us, while all the while stealthily avoiding easy stylistic categorization.