By Ross Jones
American Folk Rock’s place in musical history is typically remarked on by its focus on the metaphorical journey of life. The Felice Brothers – now ten years into the ever-travelling career – are typical examples of the tradition. On new album ‘Life In The Dark’, they particularly focus on life’s travels as they themselves leave their own mark.
The group deliver an experienced album – through woven tales of modern America in poetry and emotional Country, Folk and Blues they show their tender and endearing personality that shines within the music. ‘Diamond Bell’ aches with love-yarn hurt, Ian Felice providing this not just with his worn delivery but with his figurative, almost biographical narrative. ‘Dancing On The Wing’ jives and hoots from within a dimly lit barn and couldn’t be warmer, the music throughout having that down-to-earth sentiment that suitably accompanies Felice. It’s passion is unwavering, and it’s where the band are at their most original and enticing – yet in places they perhaps wear their influences too heavily on their sleeves.
Throughout ‘Life In The Dark’ it’s impossible to mistake the influence that America’s favourite sons Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen may have had on the band. Ian Felice’s way with a sentence is commendable and learnt from ‘Blood On The Tracks’, yet can stumble over himself. ‘Aerosol Ball’ is a confusing collection of rhyming couplets, a word salad that doesn’t feel natural. ‘Triumph ’73’ is an undeniably touching composition, yet loses some of that raw reaction due it’s undeniable comparability to the boss’ darkest thoughts.
Thankfully, the record’s depth with a story and considered approach to musical structure overall weighs heavier than its flaws. The Felice Brothers offer original ideas through their outlook on the modern world and the way in which they express it.