The Avett Brothers’ eighth album, Magpie and the Dandelion, creates beauty out of simple storytelling. The album is created to be the second part of their previous album, The Carpenter, as both albums were recorded during the same session. Like the group’s preceding albums, Magpie and the Dandelion stays true to the themes of love, heartache, and relatable life struggles.
Although the tempos of the songs do not offer much variation, the pure lyrics compensate for the newly consistent mellow tones. The lyrics dominate the music. While the instruments don’t drive the album, the simplicity of the music gives power to the narrative. Prominent banjo intricately weaves into the songs as the band strips down their occasional poppy sounds and replaces them with genuine life stories. The album is taking a risk, as it strays from the sound found in The Carpenter but that risk is well worth it.
Magpie and the Dandelion’s lyrics demonstrate the band’s evolution,
which strays from the popular demand of the music industry. In their opening song, Open Ended Life, the lyrics read, “Let’s find something new to talk about/ I’m tired of talkin’ about myself/ I spent my whole life trying to connive everyone that I was something else.” The lines reveal the pressure of the music industry and communicate the band’s new approach to music. The rest of the album demonstrates this change, as the band devotes songs to different subject matters.
The album is a particularly personal one, with the track “Morning Song” devoted to a family member whom recently passed away. The last line of the song is sung by a collection of family members and friends. The song is a preservation of life, and an attempt from the Avett Brothers to preserve their original sound. While the preceding album The Carpenter broke free from the band’s original style, Magpie and the Dandelion revives the Avett Brothers’ country undertones. They quickly save themselves from the conformity many musicians have to face, and take a step toward defining themselves as a classic folk rock band.
By Gabriella Jorio