Here are some thoughts on some of the songs Life in the Dark, the latest record from the Felice Brothers. I’d say they got their Americana mojo back, but I don’t think they ever really lost it – more took a stroll down a different path for a while, and have now rejoined the original trail.
Aerosol Ball: A Cajun-inflected delight that is dark commentary on consumerism in a bubbly, danceable disguise. I will never look at the St. Paulie Girl the same way again.
Jack at the Asylum: I heard the first couple of bars and thought Oh, they did ‘Jack of Diamonds’ again?, which – yes, but also no. It’s Jack of Diamonds, done American Gods-style. The embodied voice of the frontier, slipping through time, hopscotching states; an American everyman, a rambler, a gambler, a long way from home, counting his cards and making his luck, long after his luck has run out, writing us all a note from the “looney bin” that is both warning and entreaty.
Triumph ’73: Echoes of Vietnam, though “rich man’s war” could just as easily apply to activities in the Middle East. I like to listen to this one when driving through empty farmland under threatening stormy skies. It would probably be good on a time travel soundtrack.
Plunder: I’m going to be blunt: this is a super bouncy shout-along song about PTSD, an in particular, mood swings, violence and persistent memories of the horrors of war. I didn’t like it the first time I heard it, but – it’s grown on me. Sometimes I still skip past it, though.
Sally!: Nearly-wordless Appalachian porch jam. Excellent company for traffic jams and/or sitting in the back yard in the shade with a cold beverage.
Diamond Bell: Over six minutes about a dashing female bandit and the innocent boy who loved her, or: Murder, A Love Story. It unfolds slowly and gracefully and the ending pinches my heart every time.
Sell the House / Chain Me to the Earth: An Appalachian Fields of Athenry. Haunting. Heartbreaking. Also sometimes puzzling – why take the kids to Jacksonville?? Hidden at the end of the recorded version: the true last song, an expression of unmoveable defiance.
If you’d like to listen to the whole thing, there is a full album stream here.