The Felice Brothers- Favorite Waitress Review

felice brothers

FAVORITE WAITRESS TRACK LIST

1. BIRD ON BROKEN WING
2. CHERRY LICORICE
3. MEADOW OF A DREAM
4. LION
5. SATURDAY NIGHT
6. CONSTITUENTS
7. HAWTHORNE
8. KATIE CRUEL
9. NO TROUBLE
10. ALIEN
11. CHINATOWN
12. WOMAN NEXT DOOR
13. SILVER IN THE SHADOW

Famous for having recorded one of their first albums, in a chicken coop, the Felice Brothers’ latest effort Favorite Waitress brings just as much unfiltered Catskill Mountains grit. A mix of Americana and Folk, the new album makes for an easy listen. The first vocals on the album arrive in the form of a dog barking in the background, which invites the listener to pull up a chair with a cheap beer and a Styrofoam cup for a tobacco receptacle.

The band lost founding member and drummer Simone Felice after their last album, Celebration Florida, which some critics assert brought them back to the inspiration of earlier albums, namely that of The Band. Some other influencers for the album include the Felice Brother’s sometime touring partners, Old Crow Medicine Show and Justin Townes Earle.

“Bird on Broken Wing” is a haunting ballad of lost love and lost time. Ian Felice’s soft vocals give the track a despairing quality even in the face of hopeful lyrics about “the promised land where the wind is laughter”. This track currently vies with “Cherry Licorice” as the most popular track on iTunes, and deservedly so.

“Cherry Licorice” picks up the pace from the opening track. The band sounds like they’re trying to keep up with Ian’s lyrics, whose simple or stretched rhymes also feel impromptu.

“Meadow of a Dream” brings the listener some of the despair and insanity of backwoods life. The lyrics are inviting, coaxing one into this world. The only weakness of the song is a rather irrelevant reference to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

“Lion” is an upbeat number, yet plagued with simple rhymes that discourage more than one listen.

The story behind “Saturday Night” is challenging to piece together. A line like “I’m the new Elvis, covered in my enemies’ blood” leaves this listener puzzling along in the wake.

“Constituents” opens with a somber organ tune. Ian stays enjoyable sardonic of politics with his references of constituents agreeing. One of the slower songs on the album, it gives the sense of a social outsider looking in.

“Hawthorne” contains a few more jabs at politicians. The mournful tone of the track serves to lend the album a degree of artistic unity.

Picking up again with “Katie Cruel”, the song makes big jumps between its main body and the Rock-reminiscent chorus. This is one of the album’s stronger efforts lyrically, but the transitions are a bit jarring.

The tracks of the album are well placed, having a beat of their own as they shift from fast to slow. Rinse and repeat. “No Trouble” is perhaps the closest track on Favorite Waitress to a traditional love song. Ian makes many pleasant promises to his unnamed lover.

With “Alien” the listener is shifted into something of an existential crisis. The fiddle on this track is excellent, and holds the piece together while lifting it up out of the mud and the woods.
The final three tracks on the album, “Chinatown”, “Woman Next door”, and “Silver In the Shadow” continue the departure from the rest of the album’s ethos begun by “Alien”. The tracks grow louder and lose the earlier song’s sense of rustic simplicity, to their credit.

Overall, this album doesn’t merit more than a first few listens from most. While there is much to be said for a band staying true to their artistic roots and the artistic unity of an album, this work suffers from a lack of variety. This album was enjoyable, but will not have the lasting power of the band’s self titled 2008 album with its memorable tracks like “Frankie’s Gun!” and “Whiskey in My Whiskey”.

Rating: 6/10

Nate Duke is currently studying English Literature at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. His work has appeared in The Blue Hour Press, Black Heart Magazine, and the Ozark Line.

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