The Avett Brothers - True Sadness

Review by Shannon Shumaker

The Avett Brothers have returned once more just in time for summer. Although their new album, True Sadness may feel a bit somber, very introspective, and quite lonely at times, it’s impossible not to have a good time while listening to these twelve songs. Not only will the wide spectrum of emotions will provide listeners with a diverse array of sounds, but it will also give them the perfect soundtrack to their summer.

“Ain’t No Man” opens up True Sadness with that classic Avett Brothers sound - a strong bass line kicks things off alongside a vocal melody that will get stuck in your head and a beat that you’ll be clapping along with before the end. It’s one hell of an opener, which is followed by “Mama I Don’t Believe,” a slower, but no less beautiful track. The vocal harmonies in the second song are something that fans have come to know and love about The Avett Brothers over the years.

Lyrically, “Smithsonian” is one of the stronger songs on True Sadness, telling about life’s discoveries (many of which aren’t always necessarily good) and growing up. Lines like, “Loved ones will break your heart/With or without you/Turns out we don’t get to know everything,” are a bit somber, but brutally honest and delivered with a sense of acceptance that makes the song less sad and more positive.

At first “You Are Mine” sounds a bit disconnected from the first few songs, its more groovy sound making it a little harder to mesh, but the following track, “Satan Pulls The Strings” helps tie it in with a high energy, nearly electronic sound at times. These songs aren’t necessarily something you’d expect to hear on True Sadness, but they’re also catchy as hell, a good high point before a few more serious songs. The themes of True Sadness come in full force on the title track, especially in lines such as “I hate to say it/but the way that it seems is that no one is fine/Take the time to peel a few layers/And you will find true sadness.” Following that theme is “Fisher Road To Hollywood,” which is about the heartbreaking truth and inevitability of losing friends as you grow up.  

These somber final songs may not be as high energy as the opener, or even “Satan Pulls The Strings,” but emotionally, they are definitely The Avett Brothers at their strongest. True Sadness is about growing up and getting older, which isn’t always a bad thing, but definitely comes with quite a bit of introspection. The final song, “May It Last” serves as a theatrical end to these stories, and while its sound may not fit with the other eleven tracks on the album, it just seems to make sense, making True Sadness an emotional release that is well worth listening to.

Rating: 4/5

Listen to "True Sadness" or "Ain't No Man"

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