Secret Meeting score: 80
by Philip Moss
Ian Felice has had a busy couple of years. As well as recording with Conor Oberst on his sensational new record, Salutations, he’s become a dad and found time to record one of the best debut albums of the year. But, as he put it himself when we met up for an interview at his recent Manchester show, there’s plenty to write about at the moment. And target number one begins with his distain for the man in the White House.
‘Well, the aliens landed on election day,’ starts album highlight, 21st Century – wasting no time in emphasising his scorn for the President and the America in which he is bringing up his new born child. Points that are emphasised further through Road to America’s grisly lyrics, as the American Dream goes awry, just as it did for Lennie and George in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men– ‘White picket fences aflame… cheerleaders in a thunderstorm… politicians and businessmen placing bids as high as their pyramids… slaughterhouse flies cloud the haunted skies – this must be the road that leads to America.’ Yet, clearly not the America Felice associates himself with.
Over a tasteful Wurlitzer, album closer In The Final Reckoning, evokes Dylan’s Ballad Of A Thin Man, both vocally and lyrically as the businessman returns, forcing him to carve his name ‘with butcher knife into the tree of life.’ Felice is clearly disillusioned with his place in modern day America, particularly under the responsibility of fatherhood. Yet, out of this negativity has sprung a record of true beauty.