Seth Avett releases Seth Avett Sings Greg Brown, a tribute to the songwriting hero Avett considers “one of the finest American poets of the last 40 years.” The solo record is both an expression of admiration and gratitude, as well as a showcase for Avett’s unique abilities as a song interpreter, as he penetratingly captures the spirit, sincerity and beloved characters that populate some of Brown's best songs.
The son of a Pentecostal preacher, Brown – who The New York Times has observed is “as much an authentic creature and interpreter of the Midwest as Lucinda Williams is of the South” – is responsible for some of the most exquisite examples of modern American folk songwriting.
Recorded in hotel rooms in locales from Mexico to North Carolina and co-produced by Avett and Grammy-winning producer, engineer and mixer Dana Nielsen (Bob Dylan, Neil Young), the record touches on the simple human experiences that Brown is so known for bringing to life – trustworthiness, simple love, intimacy, and surprising familiarity – highlighted by Avett’s rich voice and his precise, shimmering acoustics.
Avett hand-picked his favorite songs across Brown’s vast repertoire. One of the album’s standouts – “Just a Bum” – combines capricious fate, smooth harmonies and stunning lines. Elsewhere on the album, Avett effortlessly interprets Brown’s masterpieces of love, lost youth and social decay (“The Poet Game”), a love letter to the Midwest (“The Iowa Waltz”), and redemption (“My New Book”), as the album’s scaled-back sound foregrounds Brown’s poetic narratives — and, like a faithful film adaptation of a short story, deepens one’s appreciation for the original text by highlighting the subtle emotional and melodic undercurrents.
“There's something within music that I don't understand unless I get inside of it,” says Avett of the project. “I wanted to explore, not just through listening, but through my hands, through my body, through my own vocal cords, what some of the deeper meanings of these songs are. They're very malleable – lending themselves more easily to interpretation and discovery.”
Seth previously shared the album’s first two previews, the stripped-down and syncopated “Good Morning Coffee,” and the poignant minor leaguer’s lament, “Laughing River.” He also shared incredible self-shot acoustic performances of “You Drive Me Crazy” and “My New Book.”
Seth Avett Sings Greg Brown Tracklist:
The Poet Game
Good Morning Coffee
Just a Bum
You Drive Me Crazy
I Slept All Night by My Lover
My New Book
The Iowa Waltz
All songs written by Greg Brown