The Avett Brothers -- comprised of real-life brothers Scott and Seth Avett, along with bassist Bob Crawford and cellist Joe Kwon -- are one of the best currently working Americana acts out there. Thanks to their patented blend of bluegrass, rock, folk and country, not to mention their signature harmonies, the group has become known for gorgeous melodies and razor-sharp lyrics.
The Avett Brothers released their first full-length album, Country Was, in 2002, via Ramseur Records, and they've been churning out solid Americana tracks ever since -- that's a decade and a half's worth of material to choose from for this list of the Top 10 Avett Brothers Songs. Read on to see how you feel about our choices.
"November Blue"From 'Country Was' (2002)
“November Blue” comes from the first official full-length Avett Brothers album, Country Was, which makes it 15 years old now. As such, it sounds different from the music the band is currently making: It’s raw and unproduced, letting the narrator’s heartbreak command most of the song’s attention.
“And I sing songs of sorrow / Because you’re not around,” Scott Avett sings. “See, babe, I’m gone tomorrow / Baby, follow me down.”
"November Blue" even earned a follow-up song, “Denouncing November Blue (Uneasy Writer).” That track appears on 2006's Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions.
"I and Love and You"From 'I and Love and You' (2009)
In terms of production, this song is the polar opposite of “November Blue.” Smoothly produced (some fans of old Avetts work may say too smoothly produced), “I and Love and You” introduced a new generation of fans to the Avett Brothers: It was released as a free digital download and was chosen as a Starbucks Pick of the Week in September of 2009. It’s hard to deny the power of the song’s central statement: “Three words that became hard to say / I and love and you.”
"A Father's First Spring"From 'The Carpenter' (2012)
Scott Avett’s song about the the birth of his daughter -- and the way it utterly transformed his life -- is one of the purest (and most realistic) glimpses into a father’s love ever put to music: “The realest thing I ever felt / Was the blood on the floor and the love in your yell / I was a child before / The day that I met Eleanor,” he sings. Speaking of Eleanor: Here's an adorable video of her interrupting her dad while he tries to get through a hymn.
"February Seven"From 'The Carpenter' (2012)
“February Seven,” from the 2012 album The Carpenter, tackles a common Avett Brothers theme: redemption through love. The song finds the poetry in struggle.
“I was on the mend when I fell through / The sky around was anything but blue," the song goes. "I found as I regained my feet / A wound across my memory / That no amount of stitches could repair / But I awoke, and you were standing there.”
Another good way to describe the thematic elements of this violin-imbued love song is with its original title (which fans can hear a demo of on The Carpenter box set): “Fortune.”
"Ain't No Man"From 'True Sadness' (2016)
If stringed songs about love and loss and fatherhood aren’t really your thing, then “Ain’t No Man” just might be. It’s a hand-clap-driven sing-a-long bursting with joy. The first single off of the Avett Brothers' 2016 release True Sadness, “Ain’t No Man” also earned band their first No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
"Paranoia in B-Flat Major"From 'Emotionalism' (2007)
In classic Avett Brothers fashion, “Paranoia in B-Flat Major” is driven heavily by banjo and vocals. The song slowly grows in intensity, building into a frenzy of both (with an assist from the bass and keyboards), then slips into a whisper, then explodes with energy again. The song also serves as a showcase for every crazy thing Scott Avett’s voice can do.
"No Hard Feelings"From 'True Sadness' (2016)
“No Hard Feelings” is a poignant reflection on mortality and being at peace with the world. Like so many other great Avett Brothers songs, this one finds the line between sorrow and hope, and makes beautiful music out of it. “For life and its loveliness / And all of its ugliness / Good as it’s been to me / I have no enemies,” the song concludes.
"Murder in the City"From 'The Second Gleam' EP (2008)
You might not expect that a song called “Murder in the City” would be a love song about family, but … well, this song is a love song about family. What starts as as a plea from the narrator not to “go revengin’ in my name” should he be murdered turns into a reflection on brotherhood, sonship and what it means to be a family. “Always remember,” the narrator sings, “There was nothing worth sharing / Like the love that let us share our name.”
"If It's the Beaches"From 'The Gleam' EP (2006)
“If It’s the Beaches” comes from a 2006 Avett Brothers EP, The Gleam. The EP never got big, and “If It’s the Beaches” was never released as a single, but it’s a song that still tops many avid Avett Brothers fans' lists. The heartbroken track has the narrator promising, “If it’s the beaches’ sands you want, then you will have them.” If it feels personal, there’s a reason for that: a voicemail from Scott Avett’s wife Sarah is featured in the bridge of the song.
"Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise"From 'I and Love and You' (2009)
"Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise" contains everything a great Avett Brothers song song: a mix of darkness and light, solemnity and hope, often in the same stanza. This duality shines in lines such as, "When nothing is owed, deserved or expected / And your life doesn't change by the man that's elected / If you're loved by someone, you're never rejected / Decide what to be, and go be it." Ultimately, it's just a beautiful song, musically lush and lyrically deep.