The Felice Brothers’ ‘Yonder is the Clock’

Touring with The Dave Matthew’s band and influenced by Bob Dylan. Why, this album and I should’ve been a match made in heaven. A Laurel and Hardy, bread and butter kind of relationship, you might say. Yet my exaggerated expectations (as so often happens) ravaged my hopes and sprouted myriad disappointments.

Don’t get me wrong. There are a few gems in The Felice Brothers’ 2009 album ‘Yonder is the Clocks’. The opening track (The Big Surprise), though lacking some of that toe tapping rhythm, and loudly proclaiming ‘listen to us! We’re Dylan’s prodigal offspring!’ is a welcome opener. Melancholic, and introverted, as we’ve all come to expect from this Americana influenced folk.

And from here on out things do occasionally luck up, with Buried in Ice being the sophisticated, elder brother of the album; smooth piano matching perfectly with the drifting, calming lyrics. And then you’ve got track 6 bringing the continental Rufus Wainwright-esque tint to the album. How to describe it? I don’t know. Picture Amélie’s postmodernism with a few shots of moonshine and dice-throwing and you’re part-way there. However you describe it, it’s a big ask not to imagine yourself a Parisian ‘Artiste’ bellowing a pipe while perusing the Champs-Elysees with this track as the backdrop to your alternative lifestyle.

Despite these rare diamonds in the rough though, the bee in the bonnet has to be track 4 (Chicken Wire); a little 50s/60s bluesy, rock ‘n’ rolly, folky number making it a true breath of fresh air from the slow-beat trudges of the majority of the remaining tracks.

That being said, the album has been put together quite well. A few melancholic tracks followed by a bit of a party number makes for a good cocktail overall, but the right ratio isn’t quite there, leaving the couple of up-beat tracks feeling somewhat out of place.

This isn’t quite Kings of Leon’s Only by the Night (an upsettingly sold-out letdown) for The Felice Brothers, but there’s that stinging lack of variety that those few truly special folk bands manage to perfect (Stornoway’s Beachcombers Windowsill and Mumford & Sons’ Sign no More come to mind). It lacks the former’s wrenching lyrics and the latter’s impassioned vocals, which is what’s needed to stand out from the rest of this new-wave folk entourage.

I just hope this isn’t the peak for The Felice Brothers. Pre-Yonder is the Clocks tracks such as ‘Frankie’s Gun’ and ‘Wonderful Life’ are vague hints at the true capabilities of this band. So, I’ll loiter around a while in the hope they stop dragging their feet and pull something special out of the bag next time around. Though I’m, regrettably, not quite convinced to hold my breath.

 

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