Another EP meant to bide time before the delayed full-length, The Gleam II has moments of grace and power. The six acoustic, country-tinged tracks occasionally suffer from a sameness of production. Country, like the blues, does have its standard progressions, but the best artists have always more than risen above those limitations. Avett Brothers are not in that category yet, but they are gaining on it.
The gorgeous, heartfelt "The Greatest Sum" ought to be a hit. A deeply moving ode to fidelity, it rings true lyrically and is delivered with soul. That can’t be said for tunes like "Tear Down the House" and "Murder in the City," which attempt to impart wisdom, about change and legacy, respectively, but earnest and clever phrases do not necessarily make for riveting testimony. Still, "St. Joseph’s" and the moody "Bella Donna" do hint at the heights reached by "The Greatest Sum," even if they don’t quite reach them.
Scott and Seth Avett aim for a poetic meditation on family, loyalty, and trust on The Gleam II, and they almost pulled off a minor gem. As it stands, only a few of the tracks resonate with the power intended.
Ironically, the EP may suit the band well at this stage. The pending full-length record, reportedly to be release on American Recordings, may be a tall order until the brothers can hone their sound to a more formidable consistency.