What happened to songwriting? As a folk-rock combo, you'd expect The Avett Brothers to wield a decent lyric, but save for the opening "The Once and Future Carpenter", about a woodworker who abandons his trade to wander, this second album is pretty dismal fare.
In songs such as "Live and Die" and "Pretty Girl from Michigan", lines don't connect, they just follow one another like bricks in a wall, a series of phrases rather than a song with a point. Elsewhere, "Winter in My Heart" takes a single metaphor and drags it out endlessly, while the platitudes of "Life" don't even reach the level of a half-baked homily. It's all set to a bland blend of banjos and fiddles with occasional poignant horns. Shameless Mumfordry with few redeeming characteristics.
Download: The Once and Future Carpenter; Down with the Shine