Jim Avett and Family—a record of faith and, well, family—collects songs of inspiration after taking its own inspiration from a multi-generational story: Avett, the father of Scott and Seth of The Avett Brothers, has fed his musical muse over the years as time allowed. Namely, when the work of several careers and hobbies like teaching, welding and social work was done. After retirement gave him more chances for picking and singing, Avett recorded this album as a joyous excuse to work with his own children and to create a keepsake for their children.
Avett, the son of a preacher, said this debut was inspired by the songs he and his parents used to sing in the car. It's easy, then, to imagine this record as a 30-minute drive with Jim in the front and Scott, Seth and sister Bonnie harmonizing from the backseat. They must be traveling in a station wagon, as guitarist Nelson Mullis and The Avett Brothers' Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon show up for the ride, too.
The first three songs, gospel standards all, map the ways in which those voices work together. They start as one on the opening "It's Me" before breaking apart and circling into a round. Dad goes it alone on "Just a Little Talk with Jesus," his vocals conversational in delivery, suiting the message. All the voices again congregate on the chorus of "Little White Church." The rest of the program plays out in a similar fashion, highlighted by spry, lead-swapping takes on "Shall We Gather at the River" and "Down by the Riverside."
Jim Avett and Family can sit, humbly, in the same pew as Buck Owens' Dust on Mother's Bible and the album's closest kin in the roots-gospel world, the Bad Livers' Dust on the Bible. For that occasion, let's fondly subtitle it No Dust on Grandpa.