In the Kingdom of Dreams
(2017, Loose Music)
By comparison to his more steadfastly retro peers, Ian Felice's folk aesthetic is impure, pairing the old tropes with fragments from the grinder of pop culture, an act of meme-splicing and Jungian conflation. If Felice were a Nashville artist, his intent might have been to make the old truths seem "relevant" by the inclusion of the present. Being from around here, it's the opposite: to coax the absurdities of contemporary life back into a meaningful continuum with the numinous, lost world that has seduced his entire generation of songwriters. Felice's surrealism is permissive, not random. Guided by longing, his quietly spectacular way with hooks and simple refrains redeems even the most reaching of his metaphors. Voice to the fore, lyric sheet never required. Brother James, producer Simone, and Josh Rawson play with that stately "eternal beginners" commitment that makes the Felice Brothers such a fucking great band. Mysterious beauty abounds, and Ian flashes some new guitar moves as well.