The Felice Brothers - a close-knit band of two brothers and three long-term friends - recorded most of the songs that made up their first three albums in a converted chicken coup in upstate New York. Their sound has always been distinctly earthy American country-folk, so it comes as something of a surprise that their new long-player is quite as expansive as it is.
Alongside the more familiar sounds of piano and guitar, Celebration, Florida bursts with horns, ambient synths, big drum beats, bigger bass lines, piano, violin and accordion. Not only that, but you’ll even find rave beats and acid jazz here. That’s right, acid jazz.
Indeed, you know this album is going to be an experimental outing when a cacophony of raucous schoolyard chanting infiltrates the chorus of opener Fire At The Pageant. While the urge to push the envelope and develop their sound is commendable, the strongest moments on the record still come when The Felice Brothers are at their most delicate, when Ian Felice’s fragile voice sounds as though it could crack at any time. Through the sorrowful reminiscence of Oliver Stone, for instance, Felice’s vocal is so beautiful over soft ivory tinkling that all other sounds - the horns and the added ambience - even though they are pared back, still seem somehow intrusive.
However, for all the bells and whistles of Celebration, Florida, The Felice Brothers’ sound remains atmospheric and the sense of genuine Americana is strong. Crucially, their fine storytelling is still present and, whether they are embellishing their songs with added dimensions or not, no-one tells a good old fashioned yarn like The Felice Brothers.
Review by Rob Townsend.
Read Rob's review of The Felice Brothers, here.