Felix Riebl – Into the Rain
July 17, 2011
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Here at No Jackets, we’re pretty big fans of The Cat Empire. After first learning that Felix himself was an alumnus of our school, we took an instant fascination with them. Between us, we have seen them 14 times and have never experienced a bad performance. Some of their songs have become regular in our social playlists, in particular The Wine Song. This is regularly followed later in the evening by The (A Little Too Much) Wine Song. Which is the exact same song, but is played after having drunk copious amounts of whatever cheap liquor we have acquired for the evening.
Felix Riebl has always been my preferred vocalist in the band, which made me incredibly anxious to get a hold of his solo album. Despite having heard a few demos from around the web, it was really hard to predict what was to come. Despite my love for him, I do not think Felix is a particularly impressive singer, but it was rather his control and influence over the band that made me prefer him to Harry Angus. With horns blaring and the jazz drums tapping away, it was easy to miss Felix’s faults and focus on his dance moves and rhythm.
Into the Rain is completely stripped of the flashiness. It is mostly Felix accompanied by a combination of acoustic guitar, piano and drum kit, and while it is a pleasant listen, one can’t help but crave a trumpet solo or even some skat singing. You get the feeling that Felix just isn’t a solo artist. Bones is one of the more captivating tracks on the album, but more because it has a degree of progression, where some other tracks remain increasingly similar even after a few listens. The emotional composition that leads to the climax in I Won’t Know You Anymore shows Felix’s vast musicianship, and uses his Greek ancestry as inspiration for Helen, a song loosely based on Helen of Troy. He does manage a soulful cover of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m on Fire without disgracing it.
There can be a lot of anxiety over a solo album. If it’s successful, it might spell the end for the main band and with their rumoured break-up a few years ago, The Cat Empire have a history of difficulty. Felix has described Into the Rain as a break-up album, which explains a lot of the emotion that is present in almost all tracks. It is a beautiful listen but I am slightly grateful that it will not threaten The Cat Empire’s success.