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The Gleam II ()

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With its full-bodied sound and rustic energy, 2007's Emotionalism helped transform the Avett Brothers into new icons of the progressive folk scene. The album also reached some highly influential ears -- most notably those of veteran producer Rick Rubin, who signed the trio to his own American Recordings label in mid-2008. Before jumping to the big leagues, however, the Avett Brothers issued one last recording with Ramseur Records. The Second Gleam is a short and sober affair, dominated by the Avett siblings' songs about family, childhood, and death. Bassist Bob Crawford is nowhere to be found, which draws a deep line between this sparse, poignant effort and Emotionalism's sonic swell. But The Second Gleam doesn't try to be the official follow-up to Emotionalism, nor does it align itself with the ramshackle sound of the band's earliest work. Clocking in at 21 minutes, the six-song EP takes the Avett Brothers' most basic elements -- banjo, acoustic guitar, melody -- and dresses them up with warm, simple production. Had it arrived several years earlier, The Second Gleam would've been rife with mistakes and imperfect vocals, the product of a young band whose collective talents had yet to fully ripen. In 2008, however, it serves a nice reminder that the Avett Brothers do, indeed, deserve all the hype. Perhaps this is what Mr. Rick Rubin heard all along. ~ Andrew Leahey, Rovi Hide synopsis

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