In the world of alt-country there are those artists who stick to traditional storytelling, instrumentation and playing, mixing that hybrid of country, rock and folk, often with stunning results from tried and tested ingredients. Others, like The Felice Brothers, are prepared to test out new musical waters, evolve and expand their sound. From their early days as very much an authentic sounding Catskill Mountains band they’ve constantly pushed and prodded the genre, trying to find ways to breath new life into old sounds.
Their last official album Celebration, Florida was their biggest deviation from the country/folk template and it seems that it reinvigorated the band, lightened their mood and encouraged them to chase their muse and deliver Favorite Waitress, one of their finest all-round efforts. Songs like their ode to a favourite confectionary, ‘Cherry Licorice’ may seem superficial at first but it is delivered with such an infectious hook that it is hard to resist. Likewise ‘Lion’ with its rousing fiddle melody proving irresistible.
The strength of the album also lays in the balance that songs like ‘Saturday Night’, the folky funeral march of ‘Constituents’ and the haunting undertones of ‘Chinatown’ provide. The latter with its twists and turns making it a rural American cousin of sorts to something CocoRosie might write. These show the range the band are capable of both in their songwriting and the their compositional creativity. They can do sad and forlorn as convincingly as they do euphoric hoedown. Through it all the constant is Ian Felice’s ‘older than his years’ dusty croak of a voice. Dylan-esque to a degree it is the icing on the cake of a band that has barely put a foot wrong across nearly a decade of great contemporary Americana releases.
this review was first published on FasterLouder