I wasn’t going to write about this album for a variety of reasons but after giving it long hard consideration, I have something to say about the band so I’m going to say it. Now, I’ve read a number of reviews about the album and before I delve into the problem that I have with the Felice Brothers, its important to make this statement: I like this album. I like the Felice Brothers.
Ok, so now that that is clear, lets begin.
I guess what confuses (and I am confused so I make no apologies if this review becomes confused!) me about this band is why they are heralded by so many as something truly special and unique. Perhaps its the unique part that bothers me most. I’m not sure what unique means to others but it does not mean that you sound like Bob Dylan at times, The Band at others, Woody Guthrie at others and Tom Waits at others. This is not unique. Yes, I believe they take all these influences, roll them into a ball and spit them out in a rootsy, folksy, alt country, rock n’roll kind of fashion the likes of which is not heard in the UK very often. But is it really something new? It’s certainly nothing ground breaking for me. I have a lot of alt. country records, a lot of folsky americana and though the Felice Brothers do it as well as anyone I can think of, its nothing I’ve not heard before. It’s more than a little borrowed from various sources.
That said, I love this album. And I love it more than I loved the previous albums. Perhaps its the darker edges of this record which appeal most to me. ‘The Big Surprise’ with its subtle and beautiful use of drums is a stunningly sparse start to the album before the foot stomping begins in ernest. Yet it’s the moments when they drift dangerously close to Waits territory that I love the most. ‘Ambulance Man’ and ‘Sailor Song’ (jesus, it’s even got a Waits title!!) are fantastic tunes and I absolutely adore ‘All When We Were Young’. There are a number of foot stomping numbers about Chickens…not sure how many chicken songs an album should have?!, which up the tempo and pace of the album but all in all it’s another fine piece of music from start to finish. So whilst it’s nothing new for me, and I’d probably stick on Highway 61 Revisited or Black Rider before this, its certainly something well worth investing in if you have a fondness for the music produced by Waits, Dylan, Woody Guthrie or the Band, and I’m sure, despite my concerns, that in years to come that the Felice Brothers will be as revered as the aforementioned when we talk about the elite of american music.
TSP Grade = B-