Ian Felice

Ian Felice – Kingdom Of Dreams (Loose Music)

One of the most distinctive voices of our generation, and a peerless lyricist to boot, this is perhaps surprisingly Ian Felice‘s debut solo album away from his ‘brothers’. But then again, it isn’t, for it features his brother (and former bandmate) Simone Felice on production duties, also taking his seat behind the drums here, while founding members James Felice and Josh Rawson make up the remaining musicians. So it seems it is a Felice Brothers record in all but name.

It starts with the shimmering banjo of the title track and juxtaposes that with the typically macabre “I don’t wanna be hanged from a gold ash tree” and “I don’t wanna fall for a courtesy call with the mice in the wall, or wander around this make believe town in a hospital gown“, perhaps painting the environment of being that of a mental institution, the patient reaching a kind of nirvanic catharsis with the chorus “Oh but if I were a king, all of the bells would ring.” It’s an impressive opener and sets the tone perfectly for what’s to come.

The barren landscape of the gorgeous ‘Will I Ever Reach Laredo‘ brings with it a feeling of mournful solitude, and by the end of it, we are left to wonder whether this is going to be an altogether less playful release than those he has recorded with The Felice Brothers. But then if we were starting to have concerns for the New Yorker’s well-being, ‘21st Century‘ tickles us with its opening gambit: “Well the aliens landed on election day, and they stole your mother’s lingerie.” Musically it sounds surprisingly like something that Conor Oberst might have written.

Mostly though, it’s a downbeat affair, albeit often one with a kind of spiritual lift. There is a brief respite from the pensivity though, in the shape of ‘Road To America‘, an almost Bert Jansch like guitar jangle accompanying a persistent stomping rhythm and lyrics such as “Paintings of Smokey The Bear, or Washington crossing the Delaware / Politicians and businessmen, placing bids, high as the pyramids“, but even this breaks down midway, into a dreamlike trance, punctuated by the chiming of church bells, “all alone in a gold Cadillac…to the empire of Donald Duck….”

And though this may sound confusing, it is this seeming regression into childhood which is at the heart of In The Kingdom Of Dreams. As Ian himself puts it, “many were based on memories of my past but not necessarily all literal or in a logical sequence. I became interested in the pull between reality and unreality and also in how time affects memory.”

All in all, this is simply a truly lovely record, and in ‘Ten To One‘, we have probably the best use of a countdown in a song since ‘Space Oddity’, as well as the most poignant album closer you’ll hear all year, so much so that you actually end up feeling a little unsettled by it. The world is certainly a better place with Ian Felice in it. Long may he continue

In The Kingdom Of Dreams is out now on Loose Music.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.