mon 27/09/2021

Album: The Felice Brothers - From Dreams To Dust | reviews, news & interviews

Album: The Felice Brothers - From Dreams To Dust

Album: The Felice Brothers - From Dreams To Dust

Dark Western myths and heavenly dreams from visionary Americana veterans

There’s a modesty to the Felice Brothers, an absenting of ego, even as they seek glimmers of transcendence in the vast American night.

These working-class Americana veterans are enriched by their native upstate New York, with its economic scars and natural beauty, fitting between the region’s folk mythologisers The Band and more cosmic Mercury Rev. Their music also exist in a vivid landscape, at once ruefully realistic at their nation’s ills, and aching for grace.

From Dreams to Dust is bracketed by panoramic visions. Balmy sax curls through the motorik boogie of “Jazz On the Autobahn”, which finds “heads of state hyperventilating in clouds of methane”, accompanied by sounds “like a glockenspiel, like the testing of bombs, or the tapping of stiletto heels”. At the album’s far end, “We Shall Live Again” embodies the Felices’ faith in something more, buttressed by memories of religion and possibilities created by their own art. Its languidly unfolding eight minutes sees Ian Felice promise immortality “from St Francis of Assisi to the fans of AC/DC”, and Native Americans reassembling in their place of extermination. It’s a gentle litany, a hopeful act of magic, drawled like it’s nothing special.

In between, soft piano and pedal steel accompany country ballad “Valium”, where a motel TV plays out numbing Western movie myths and Presidential debates like a single vicious message. James Felice, whose piano, keyboards and accordion thread through this record, writes a brace of songs, “All the Way Down” a murmured, haunted elegy, wrestling, like most of this record, with creation and death; “Silverfish” a parable of impotence, built from ordinary detail.

“Celebrity X” is an absurd cavalcade, and “Be At Rest” a coffin-side consideration of a “Mr. Felice.../Soft teeth, sleep-deprived/Below average student”; its dry pauses before deadpan punch-lines show the Felices’ light satiric touch, for all their ambition. “Land of Yesterdays” perhaps gets closest to the band’s supernal heart. Slow and dreamy, it parts its gauzy curtain onto staunchly American, nostalgic scenes, till cracks and rumbles in the sky pierce this deceptive comfort, replaced by an epic finale where “that island has burned.” The Felice Brothers love America, but leave its sordid crimes, dreaming of better days in the ashes.

Their music is at once ruefully realistic at their nation’s ills, and aching for grace

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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