Recording information: Letterbox Farm, Columbia County, NY (04/2015-06/2015).
As some sage once said, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," and the Felice Brothers clearly seem to have taken that advice to heart. The group has always owed a serious creative debt to the Band, and just as the 2014 album Favorite Waitress was especially beholden to the Band's Basement Tapes recordings with Bob Dylan, 2016's Life in the Dark sounds like a thematically similar sequel. Some of the nine tunes on Life in the Dark have a somber, 3 A.M. quality about them, especially "Sell the House" and the title tune, but even at their most introspective, the performances boast a spontaneous, rough-hewn approach that keeps the material from getting too heavy. And when the Felice Brothers swing into goofy, good-times numbers like "Plunder" and "Sally," the effect suggests a bunch of urban campers having an acoustic jam around the fire, with plenty of bourbon and smoke to go around. Life in the Dark finds the Felice Brothers playing to their strengths and doing what feels comfortable for them, but it doesn't seem as if the Brothers are pushing themselves especially hard or taking any chances. There's always been something special about the Felice Brothers' touch as performers, but Life in the Dark makes it seem as if the magic has faded a bit. The group is no less skillful than before, but it's harder to hear anything here that sounds especially inspired, and this doesn't clear out any new ground for the Felice Brothers. Given how good the Felices are at what they do, fans are still likely to enjoy Life in the Dark's rambling take on American roots music, but casual observers might find their minds wandering by the time the album makes it into its final innings. ~ Mark Deming
Mojo (Publisher) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he Felices miraculously hold their world together, the greatest campfire band imaginable."
Paste (magazine) - "In peeling things back to the band's core, LIFE IN THE DARK makes good on both the band's adherence to a timeless folk sound and their own eccentricities, which shine more clearly than ever as captivating strengths."
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