The Carpenter (album)

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The Carpenter
Studio album by The Avett Brothers
Released September 11, 2012
Recorded Asheville, Venice Beach, Malibu, Los Angeles
Genre Indie Rock, folk, folk punk, roots rock
Length 46:40 (iTunes Edition)
Label American
Producer Rick Rubin
The Avett Brothers chronology
Live, Volume 3
The Carpenter
Magpie and the Dandelion

The Carpenter is the seventh studio album by folk rock group The Avett Brothers. The album was produced by Rick Rubin who produced their previous full-length studio album, I and Love and You.[1][2][3][4]

The album was listed at #41 on Rolling Stone's list of the top 50 albums of 2012, saying " The palette ranges from Nineties grunge to wintry front-porch lamentation to Beatles bounce, tied together by a sweet Southern-bro sentimentality."[5]



For the week of September 29, 2012, The Carpenter was the fourth most sold album in the United States by the Billboard 200 chart, and was the third most sold rock album, and the second most sold digital album. In Canada, the album was the eighth most sold album the same week.


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (72/100)[6]
Review scores
Source Rating 4/5 stars[7]
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[8]
Alternative Press 3.5/5 stars[9]
American Songwriter 3.5/5 stars[10]
The Austin Chronicle 4/5 stars[11]
Christianity Today 4/5 stars[12]
Consequence of Sound 3/5 stars[13]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[14]
The Independent 2/5 stars[15]
musicOMH 4/5 stars[16] 3.5/5 stars[17]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[18]
Taste of Country 4.5/5 stars[19]

Upon its release, The Carpenter by The Avett Brothers received generally positive reviews from most music critics.[6] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 72, based on 24 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[6] First and foremost, The Carpenter has received positive or favorable reviews from the following publications:, AllMusic, Alt Rock Live, Alternative Press, American Songwriter, The Austin Chronicle, The A.V. Club, Christianity Today,, Entertainment Weekly, The Lantern, musicOMH, Paste, PopMatters, Pitchfork,, Rolling Stone and Taste of Country. On the other hand, The Carpenter got mixed reviews from the following publications: Consequence of Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The Milk Carton, NME, Pop 'stache and Thank Folk for That. However, The Carpenter has not received any negative or unfavoralbe reviews to date.

Kim Ruehl of highlighted that "The Carpenter is not a nod to the kind of music they started out making - by any stretch of the imagination. Hearing this disc, it makes some sense that the brothers recently appeared in a series of Gap advertisements. They've crossed a line into mainstream palatability which is a rare line to cross while still holding onto your own truths. Generally, when folksingers go that route, they do so in an effort to distance themselves from something - whether it's political or monetary or simply a yearning for a larger fanbase. But, while the Avetts's new album has a certain aesthetic which makes strange sense in a more commercial context, they seem to have crossed that line with their integrity intact."[7] James Christopher Monger of AllMusic called the album "amiable, quaint, mischievous, sad, and disarmingly sincere as its predecessor, landing somewhere between the easy, late summer nostalgia of Ron Sexsmith, the wise and wounded defiance of The Band, and the harmony-laden, pop-laced melancholy of The Jayhawks."[8] Also, Monger noted that "The Carpenter feels like both an exorcism and a benediction, bringing down the magnifying glass on the myriad complexities of death while maintaining an unwavering sense of optimism", and vowed that "The Carpenter is a relatively simple, country-folk record, albeit one with a college degree, and when it connects it hits that sweet spot between joy and despair that has served as the target for many a dusty brimmed singer/songwriter over the years. The Avett Brothers aren’t rewriting the book, they're just translating it for a new generation."[8]

Rachel Lux of Alternative Press commented that "Many of the trademarks that have made the Avett Brothers a folk-rock cross-over success are still present: good storytelling, the brothers’ distinctive vocal lobs and a pleasant combo of banjo, bass, strings and both acoustic and electric guitar. But with so many of the rough edges buffed away, there aren’t as many nooks and crannies in which listeners can embed themselves, making it more difficult to become emotionally attached to The Carpenter."[9] Marissa R. Moss of American Songrwriter wrote that "There are plenty of folk melodies on The Carpenter, many harmonies and fiddle embellishments that nail them firmly as princes of the Americana movement."[10] Jim Caligiuri of The Austin Chronicle wrote that "Taking The Carpenter at face value, the Avett's have unexpectedly developed into skilled tunesmiths...Although the Avett Brothers can't seem to decide whether they're introspective folkies or a big rock act, The Carpenter hits the right chords in such a manner that no one will likely care."[11] Jeremy V. Jones of Christianity Today stated that "The Carpenter builds an Americana arts and crafts bungalow: finely crafted, enduringly and organically styled. The album follows the band's 2009 breakout with insightful, ecclesiastical maturity while both rollicking and reflecting. Almost absent are the screams that judiciously punctuated previous work."[12]

Andy Baber of musicOMH proclaimed that "The Carpenter takes their bluegrass roots and develops them into something bigger and more polished."[16] To This, Baber found that "While the album does weigh heavily on its dark themes – possibly too much so at times – The Avett Brothers have never sounded better than they do on The Carpenter."[16] wrote that "The Carpenter is a pop-rock album, plain and simple. The country/bluegrass influences are still present, but they're forced into the background, and depending on what you liked or didn't about the Avett Brothers in the past will color the way you feel about their new direction. Taken on its own however, The Carpenter is a fine album that deserves credit for its willingness to take risks, even if not all of them pay off. It's not their best album, but it's a worthy listen."[17] Music critic Will Hermes of Rolling Stone saw that this album has a "sound of a band pushing past an old identity and toward something bigger."[18] Hermes proclaimed that "The Carpenter, also produced by Rubin, does an even better job balancing their roots charm and pop ambition, with straightforward and sturdy songcraft that holds up even when these polite Southern boys' lyrics tilt toward corn."[18] Furthermore, Hermes affirmed that "They've become Auto-Tune-less pop stars, and The Carpenter will only brighten their shine."[18] Lastly, Taste of Country's Billy Dukes portends that "the results of their recent pain and suffering have the potential to rumble around an open-minded fan’s conscience for quite some time."[19]

Dan Caffery of Consequence of Sound said that "...maybe The Carpenter, like many pieces of art, is a record that becomes more relatable with age and, most frighteningly, loss. For those of us that have been lucky thus far, we’ll have to wait and see."[13] Michael Hann of The Guardian was critical in that "The Carpenter isn't a total dud, because the Avetts are so skilled with a melody, but the plain-speaking has turned to clunkiness".[14] Finally, the most critical was The Independent's Andy Gill, who called the effort "Shameless Mumfordry with few redeeming characteristics."[15] Tyler Remmert of Pop 'stache, who rated the effort a three-stache-out-of-five, wrote that "The question then becomes whether The Carpenter is good enough to get the audience that got The Avett Brothers here to keep traveling the road with them. The bandwagons about to get a lot more crowded, and The Carpenter is divisively overt enough to give past fans just enough pause to get off before the Avett’s play their first stadium shows."[20] Domm Norris of Thank Folk for That rated the album two-stars-out-of-five, and noted that "I And Love And You may have been the signal of a shift towards a sound that was more likely to break down the lucrative walls of mainstream success, however The Carpenter pitches the Avett Brothers predominantly in the realm of useless, middle of the road shit – with some unexpected alternative rock infused sidetracks thrown in for good measure.[21]

Of the graded reviews, Grady Smith of Entertainment Weekly graded the album a (A-), who wrote that "the North Carolina siblings deliver another gorgeously crafted set of sad and soulful laments laced with acoustic guitars, sharply punctuated piano, and delicate cello."[22] Plus, Smith wrote that the album is "a harmonious, cohesive album — like hope and regret all shaken up in a mason jar."[22] The A.V. Club's Davis Inman gave the album a (B+) grade, and commented that "While a magnum opus would be compelling, The Carpenter’s slight inward turn and few great songs may be enough for now."[23] Also, Inman illustrated that "arrangements are tighter and more thoughtful" on the album, and this facilitated dropping "some of the folksy optimism and are drawn to darker themes."[23] Hailey Kim of The Lantern graded the album a (B), and wrote that "The only downside of 'The Carpenter' is that it lacks any strong punches to grab the listener’s ear. There were no surprising elements that could've pleased our ears more."[24] Furthermore, Kim affirmed that the album "tells serious stories. Even though a frequent theme of the album is death or loss, poetic lyrics shine through alongside catchy melodies and irresistibly beautiful harmonies."[24] Lastly, The Milk Carton graded the album a (C), and was critical in saying "'The Carpenter isn’t terrible, but it is a prime example of a band faltering in the face of success...The Carpenter will most likely prove to be The Avett’s version of The Black Keys’ El Camino. It’s an attempt at a crowd pleaser that will almost certainly propel the band to new heights, but it’s a shadow of what came before."[25]

On the subject of the ratings out of ten, Paste magazine's Hilary Hughes rated the album at an (8.0/10), and noted that The Avett Brothers have a "penchant for playing with contrast—between light and dark, comedy and tragedy, hard and soft, fast and slow—and their ease with switching gears between the romps and soliloquies that shines on The Carpenter, perhaps stronger than on any of their previous releases."[26] Rachael Maddux of Pitchfork rated then about (6.5/10), which Maddux was critical of the shift to a major label, and wrote that "The Carpenter, winnowed down to its best efforts, would seem of a piece."[27] Matthew Horton of NME rated the album a (6/10), and commented that "The Avetts are clearly happiest when they’re miserable. Which is fine, if you’re in that kind of mood."[28] Next, Rey Roldan of Alt Rock Live rated the album at an (9/10), and noted how the album contains "bittersweet lyrics and lilting harmonies that drift effortlessly through largely acoustic instrumentals."[29] Then,'s Drake Baer rated the album an (8/10), and called the album "another salve for the modern soul."[30] Also, Baer noted that "Of course, his music is quite adult, but it retains that adorable quality. The Avetts are that special kind of band that grow with their listeners. For both, 'The Carpenter' is a small work of wonder."[30] Finally, PopMatters' Chris Conaton rated the album a (7/10), which he wrote that "there are no real missteps on The Carpenter", and that "The Carpenter has the band poised to continue that slow, steady growth, but the right exposure".[31]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "The Once and Future Carpenter"   4:53
2. "Live and Die"   4:32
3. "Winter in My Heart"   4:55
4. "Pretty Girl from Michigan"   2:47
5. "I Never Knew You"   2:57
6. "February Seven"   4:16
7. "Through My Prayers"   4:11
8. "Down With the Shine"   4:05
9. "A Father's First Spring"   4:06
10. "Geraldine"   1:38
11. "Paul Newman vs. The Demons"   4:43
12. "Life"   3:43


Chart (2012) Peak position
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[33] 8
US Billboard 200[34] 4
US Top Rock Albums (Billboard)[35] 3
US Digital Albums (Billboard)[36] 2


The Avett Brothers

  • Seth Avett – Lead and backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, piano, organ
  • Scott Avett – Lead and backing vocals, banjo, acoustic guitar, piano
  • Bob Crawford – Upright and electric bass, backing vocals, trumpet on "Down With The Shine" [uncredited]
  • Joe Kwon – Cello
  • Jacob Edwards - Drums, percussion, trombone on "Down With The Shine" [uncredited]

Additional Musicians

  • Lenny Castro - Percussion on all songs excluding "A Father's First Spring"
  • Benmont Tench - Organ on "The Once & Future Carpenter", "A Father's First Spring", "Life", "Paul Newman vs. The Demons", "Through My Prayers", Mellotron on "A Father's First Spring", Harmonium on "Through My Prayers", Piano on "Winter In My Heart"
  • Chad Smith - Drums on "Live & Die", "Down With The Shine", "Paul Newman vs. The Demons"
  • Steven Nistor - Drums on "A Father's First Spring"
  • Ryan Hewitt - Percussion on "February Seven"
  • Charlotte & Hattie Webb - Backing vocals on "Life"
  • Doug Wamble - Slide guitar on "Live & Die"
  • Blake Mills - Electric guitar on "Live & Die"
  • Dana Neilsen - Chimes on "I Never Knew You"
  • April Cap - Oboe on "Through My Prayers"
  • Geoff Nudell - Bass clarinet on "Through My Prayers"
  • Ed Roth - Piano on "Through My Prayers"
  • Danny Moynahan - Saw on "Winter In My Heart"


  • Jake Sinclair - Additional engineering on "Down With the Shine"
  • Tucker Martine - Additional engineering on "A Father's First Spring"
  • Jordan Silva, Jon Ashley, Julian Dreyer, Evan Bradford and Evan Hill - Recording assistants

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Thompson, Stephen (2012-08-29). "First Listen: The Avett Brothers, 'The Carpenter'". NPR. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  2. ^ "Stream: The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter « Consequence of Sound". 2012-08-30. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  3. ^ Robinson, Lisa (2012-03-21). "The Avett Brothers on Their New Album, The Carpenter". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  4. ^ Conaton, Chris. "The Avett Brothers: The Carpenter". Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c "The Carpenter, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved February 23, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Ruehl, Kim (September 25, 2012). "Avett Brothers - the Carpenter". Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Monger, James (September 11, 2012). "The Carpenter - The Avett Brothers : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Lux, Rachel (September 11, 2012). "The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter". Alternative Press. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Moss, Marissa R. (August 30, 2012). "The Avett Brothers: The Carpenter". American Songwriter. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Caligiuri, Jim (October 12, 2012). "Review: Avett Brothers: The Carpenter (Universal Republic)". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Jones, Jeremy V. (September 11, 2012). "The Avett Brothers: The Carpenter". Christianity Today. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Caffrey, Dan (September 14, 2012). "Album Review: The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Hann, Michael (November 8, 2012). "The Avett Brothers: The Carpenter – review". The Guardian. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b Gill, Andy (November 3, 2012). "Album: The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter (Universal Island) - Reviews - Music". The Independent. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c Baber, Andy (November 5, 2012). "The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter". musicOMH. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b thepopeofchili-town (January 31, 2013). "The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter". Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b c d Hermes, Will (September 11, 2012). "The Carpenter". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  19. ^ a b Dukes, Billy (September 16, 2012). "The Avett Brothers, 'The Carpenter' – Album Review". Taste of Country. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  20. ^ Remmert, Tyler (September 18, 2012). "The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter". Pop 'stache. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  21. ^ Norris, Domm (September 5, 2012). "ReviewL The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter". Thank Folk for That. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  22. ^ a b Smith, Grady (September 7, 2012). "The Carpenter - review - The Avett Brothers Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  23. ^ a b Inman, Davis (September 18, 2012). "The Avett Brothers: The Carpenter". The A.V. Club. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  24. ^ a b Kim, Hailey (September 12, 2012). "Album review: The Avett Brothers' 'The Carpenter' a well-crafted narrative". The Lantern. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  25. ^ Jeremy (September 27, 2012). "Album Review - The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter". The Milk Carton. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  26. ^ Hughes, Hilary (September 11, 2012). "The Avett Brothers: The Carpenter". Paste. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  27. ^ Maddux, Rachael (September 10, 2012). "The Avett Brothers: The Carpenter". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  28. ^ Horton, Matthew (November 2, 2012). "The Avett Brothers – 'The Carpenter'". NME. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  29. ^ Roldan, Rey (September 3, 2012). "The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter". Alt Rock Live. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  30. ^ a b Baer, Drake (September 10, 2012). "The Avett Brothers, ‘The Carpenter’ – Album Review". Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  31. ^ Conaton, Chris (September 12, 2012). "The Avett Brothers: The Carpenter". PopMatters. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  32. ^ The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter - Only at Target. "The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter - Only at". Target. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  33. ^ "The Avett Brothers Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Canadian Albums Chart for The Avett Brothers. Prometheus Global Media.
  34. ^ "The Avett Brothers Album & Song Chart History" Billboard 200 for The Avett Brothers. Prometheus Global Media.
  35. ^ "The Avett Brothers Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Top Rock Albums for The Avett Brothers. Prometheus Global Media.
  36. ^ "Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Digital Albums for The Avett Brothers. Prometheus Global Media.