The Avett Brothers - The Gleam III
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The Gleam III (Loma Vista, 2020)

The Avett Brothers

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Usually, albums kick off with a sonic banger. And one might assume such is the case with The Avett Brothers' "The Gleam III," which begins with the promising song title, "Victory." However, the chorus to this sadly reflective opener states, "From victory, I accept defeat." That sure dulls the gleam.

You can call The Avett Brothers (Seth and Scott Avett) Double Downers, but this sibling act's honesty – even when seriously sad – is refreshing. The very next song, "I Should Have Spent The Day With My Family," speaks to how bad news from the media naturally heightens the importance of family. A young person was killed (we're not told whom it was, nor where the killing happened), and it's put this Avett in a sad mood.

On a brighter note, speaking of family, "Women Like You" praises the virtues of a good wife with lyrics that read like a Biblical proverb.

Not everything here is so dead serious, however. "Prison to Heaven," for instance, is sung from the perspective of a prisoner contemplating his chances of getting into heaven. In one laugh out loud verse, this guy is heard trying to sweet talk Saint Peter into letting him get through those eternally separating pearly gates.

While not all these lyrics are so pointedly spiritual, spirituality nevertheless plays a large role in many of these eight songs. "Back Into The Light," for instance, speaks to the need to get closer to God (we assume), after surrendering once again to our shadowy side. Also, "Untitled #4" describes contentment with nearly Apostle Paul-like language.

Sonically, "The Gleam III" is a stripped-down affair. The act produced this one themselves, foregoing Rick Rubin's high-powered production assistance. This approach fits, though, as these songs are mostly quiet and introspective. No, "The Gleam III" never actually goes bang because it's intended to make you think deeply, the same way The Avett Brothers did while creating it.

CDs by The Avett Brothers

The Gleam III, 2020 True Sadness, 2016 The Carpenter, 2012 Live, Volume 3, 2010 I and Love and You, 2009 The Second Gleam, 2008 The Avett Brothers Introduce Emotionalism, 2007

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