Songs like the harmonica bruised “Little Ann”, “Wonderful Life”, and the whisper soft steel “Goddamn You, Jim” creep in with a fuzzy distance akin to Grant Lee Buffalo‘s Mighty Joe Moon and the swaying cabaret dancer lament “Ruby Mae” might be mistaken for The Decemberists, but these songs are settled with a thicker layer of dust and grit.
I don’t know if Bob Dylan would ever consider collaborating with Tiger Lillies, but if he did it might sound something like “Greatest Show On Earth”, “Helen Fry”, “Frankie’s Gun!”, or “Love Me Tenderly”. “Greatest Show On Earth” and “Helen Fry” are particular fantastic, and earn The Felice Brothers a spot in my demented circus genre. The former song slinks in with serpentine Dapper Dan piano and leering ringmaster narration before bursting into a Civil War era freak show of brass, voices, and hand claps. And the latter is the quintessential blend of the brothers’ mountain folklore and carnival macabre.
“Frankie’s Gun!” and “Love Me Tenderly” keep the claps, rousing group vocals, and clamorous instrumentation, but drop the sideshow act in favor of whiskey drenched cowboy fare that Dylan and Springsteen prolly wish they’d written. I could say the same for tavern anthem “Whiskey In My Whiskey”, but the gruff vocals and deeper swagger are more like Tom Waits or the murder ballads of Nick Cave.
There really aren’t enough synonyms for awesome.