The Felice Brothers : From Dreams to Dust

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Felice Brothers from dreams to dust review

An album’s thesis can lie in its lyrical content and melodic choices, but the place where an album is actually put into physical form has the final say on its overall tone. For The Felice Brothers, their career has found them recording in an array of locations, including a chicken coop on their 2008 self-titled LP, and an old theater in New York for their 2007 debut. Their eighth album, From Dreams to Dust, once again finds the band seeking inspiration in new studio surroundings, recording in an upstate New York church built in 1873, renovated by band member Ian Felice. 

The band create a palette of reflection throughout the 12 tracks that comprise From Dreams to Dust. Its tracks look inward, to the simple, everyday moments, and add a vibrancy to them. On “To-Do List,” the band takes a mundane, sometimes stressful, collection of chores and brightens them with a shimmering, rocking mixture of warm harmonies and twinkling pianos. Its lyrics are witty, highlighting the band’s clever writing, on lines like “Return everything that I’ve borrowed / Change all the bloody gauze /buy a spinach colored dinner jacket /defy all natural law.” Mocking the scattered themes behind to do lists in a cheeky manner, the band finds a way to poke fun at the source of so much groaning and eye rolling. 

The album has its moments of confusion, often seemingly not sure of its footing or voice, like on “Celebrity X.” The track wanders through the alphabet, assigning letters to imaginary celebrities, singing of their indiscretions and faults. But, it feels tiring, leaning too much into cliche. Meanwhile, the band’s ability to create invigorating folk shines through on tracks like “Be At Rest,” a melancholic vocalization of a man’s obituary. It is heightened by big, echoing pianos and a somber vocal tone. The bulk of From Dreams to Dust carries on The Felice Brothers’ tradition of partially twangy, edgy folk rock that feels all encompassing of the genre. But at times, it is hard to ignore the weariness that persists throughout—surely the band could use a break just as much as any of us could. 

The Felice Brothers have consistently churned out soulful, intensive works of folk music. No matter where they record, their music molds to its surroundings, taking the shape of the building that holds the recording equipment. From Dreams to Dust presented the band with a new palette to create in, a building that had not been used for quite some time. They found a new home for their music, and in the process giving that site a new purpose. 

Label: Yep Roc

Year: 2021

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