The Spirituality of The Avett Brothers

Posted on April 19, 2013

I remember walking out and saying to my concert buddy (@bhsmith1), “I think I just went to church.” I had just experienced seeing The Avett Brothers live for the first time and found it was just that, an experience. That was now two years ago. Their mix of bluegrass and folk rock with vocal harmonies that only brothers can provide is powerful, add to this lyrics that are both passionate and vulnerable, as the chorus to Slight Figure of Speech suggests, “I cut my chest wide open,” and their music quickly becomes a spiritual experience.

Spiritual? Really? I think so, and here’s why…their music touches on spiritual themes we all wrestle with, even when we don’t realize it. Lyrics that are this intimate become a sort of communal act of confession. Realizing your struggles are our struggles and the hope of making it through them together can be a very spiritual experience. Something the music of The Avett Brothers makes possible for their listeners.

Their newest release, “The Carpenter” is no exception. Singing about the movement of life from the coldness of one’s heart to the joy of experiencing the change of seasons as a new parent. Death is not a topic The Avett Brothers shy away from on their latest album either. Whether it’s the first track on the album, The Once And Future Carpenter or Through My Prayers, death is not something to be afraid of while at the same time cutting the conversation with our loved ones short.

As the chorus to Down With The Shine says, “Down with the shine / the perfect shine / That poisons the well and ruins my mind. / Oh, I get took for a ride every time. / Down with the glistening shine,” the illusions of fame and greed can be deceiving. Ill With Want from their sixth full-length album “I And Love And You” explains this deception well, “The more I have the more I think I’m almost where I need to be / If only I could get a little more.”

You don’t have to look hard to find powerful themes of light and dark, the passing of time, a search for grace through past lessons learned, the importance of family, and the struggles of self-centeredness. With lyrics like, “My life is different now I swear / I know now what it means to care / About somebody other than myself” (Shame), and “The weight of lies will bring you down… / …So when you run make sure you run / To something and not away from” (Weight of Lies), the music of The Avett Brothers becomes quite personal. Their music leaves you contemplating your own past and present, your need for grace, and the need to focus on others over self.

The Avett Brothers sing with such conviction that it convicts my own soul as I listen and has me singing with them…

“We came for salvation
We came for family
We came for all that’s good that’s how we’ll walk away
We came to break the bad
We came to cheer the sad
We came to leave behind the world a better way” (Salvation Song)