“The last thing the world needs right now is another piece of sociopolitical commentary.”
So begins a statement from singer/guitarist Seth Avett, one-fourth of folk-rock band the Avett Brothers, about the band’s upcoming album “Closer Than Together,” which is due out Oct. 4.
Avett goes on to write that we, as a species, are entering “an odd new form of fatigue,” one which allows us to observe and judge the behavior of others.
“We speak as if we are not one body, though we are,” he writes. “We judge as if we don’t value the judgment of others upon us, though we do. We forget to put our feet into the shoes of our neighbor and curse them for making the same ancient mistake.”
Avett then mentions the “failings” of he and his brother Scott to navigate the Golden Rule while speaking, or just thinking about, things like God, aiming for unconditional love in a “land (and body) full of conditions,” the lunacy, beauty, mystery, hilarity and calamity of the world.
But as they have since the band released its first album, “Country Was,” in 2002, those conversations grew melodies and worked their way back into the Avett’s lives, as Seth put it, in the form of songs.
Hence “Closer Than Together.”
The album, Avett assures fans, is not a huge departure from the band’s artistic language, as it centers around the personal lives of the quartet – Seth and Scott Avett, Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon.
But “this chapter, however, perhaps in part because of our age or our time, wanders inevitably into hallways both social and political,” Avett writes.
The songs on the album, including lead single “High Steppin’,” are reflections of what, as per Avett, he and his brother, the band, the friends they’ve made over the course of their career and the strangers they’ve yet to meet, are.
“Closer Than Together” wasn’t written to intentionally comment on the sociopolitical landscape in which we find ourselves, but Avett admits it was informed by what is happening “because we are a part of it and it is a part of us.”
“The Avett Brothers will probably never make a sociopolitical record,” Avett writes in closing. “But if we did, it might sound something like this.”
“High Steppin’ ” will likely make the setlist when the Avett Brothers take the Festival at Sandpoint stage Friday. Kool and the Gang perform Saturday, and the Spokane Symphony with special guest Sybarite5 close the festival Sunday.
Because this is a dance show, the venue will be configured differently to allow for more dancing/standing space in front of the stage. There will still be sections for blankets, low chairs and high chairs, reserved patron and sponsor seating and grandstand seating.
The band also is playing the Gorge Amphitheatre on Saturday.
Next year, fans will be able to hear the same Avett Brothers songs they know and love in a new setting: musical theater.
“Swept Away” is a musical, set in 1888 off the coast of New Bedford, Massachusetts, inspired by and featuring the work of the Avett Brothers.
After their whaling ship sinks in a storm, four survivors must ask themselves, “How far will I go to stay alive? And can I live with the consequences?”
The musical is directed by Tony Award-winning Michael Mayer (“American Idiot,” “Spring Awakening,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”) and features a book by Tony Award-winning stage and screenwriter John Logan (“Red,” Broadway’s “Moulin Rouge!,” “Skyfall,” “Gladiator”).
Chris Miller and Brian Usifer worked on music arrangements and orchestrations.
“This new and original story built with our songs has revealed meanings and connections, which Scott and I never could have imagined otherwise,” Seth wrote in a statement.
“Beyond the unique joy and somewhat surreal experience of watching the project develop, it has been an honor to work with everyone involved; writer John Logan has led the way with talent, motivation and inspiration.”
The musical’s world debut will be at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre next June.
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