Magpie and the Dandelion
The Avett Brothers' eighth LP came out of the same Rick Rubin-helmed sessions that produced last year's The Carpenter, on which they deepened their mix of rootsy authenticity and pop polish. More hard-bitten and somberly reflective, Magpie exposes lyrics that tilt into hokey romanticism. But the craft is automatic, whether on the bluegrass-fed Weezerian rocker "Another Is Waiting" or the acoustic weeper "Apart From Me." Rubin's influence shines on "Vanity," a song about ambition and self-doubt, where rumbling power chords light a fire under piano-ballad Sturm und Drang — Elton John grandeur with a Paul Westerberg rasp.