As Ian Felice drawls on the opening track of Felice Navidad, “It’s Christmas 2015, in this shit-eating corporate dream.” This is a different kind of Christmas album — a dollar store Christmas. Of course, those familiar with the band will know “Ruby Mae” and “Murder by Mistletoe” from past albums, as particular standouts.
No one does a sad song quite like the Felice Brothers and some of these are so brutally real, they almost hurt. The beautifully desolate “Dollar Store” is James Felice at his very best, accompanying himself on piano to the sound of wistful accordion and choral vocals, as he sings of freezing rain, slippery ice, stupid sparkly lights, and the sad, lonesome drunk who forgot about Christmas.
The lyricism of these Catskill Mountain boys spans the fine line between genius and comedy, but is always rewarding. “Country Ham,” takes you on a magical journey, from strong egg nog, apple pie, drummer boys, and snowmen fearful of acid rain, to the first Noel. It is simply a delight.
The bleak, exquisite beauty of the project somehow fills your soul with joy. Having told the story of the sad, the lonely, the drunk, and the dispossessed at Christmas, the band have pledged to donate the profits from the CD to the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley.
Dance to the tune of “Breaking Up Christmas” — you’ll struggle not to!
There is hope in this world, it turns out. The delightful song-smithery of Ian Felice and his band is a joyous wonder in a bleak landscape, illuminated by sparkly lights. Buy this album — for yourself, and for folks who need a little Christmas light at the loneliest time of the year.