Release Date: Apr 10, 2012
Record label: Team Love
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
I’m sitting on a train travelling from my hometown of Birmingham, heading to London, where I’m to catch a flight to Caracas, Venezuela. I’m incredibly excited by my impending journey although feeling a bit emotional about leaving my family behind at home for a little while. The rain is hammering down against the windows of the train, the weak April British sunshine bleeding into the black of the night the further south I get.
The once-member of New York’s folk-rockers The Felice Brothers and spearheader of his own brainchild The Duke and The King, rhythm man Simone Felice has emerged from his own past musical collaborations. The effect: a solo album of gothic settings, overcast cryptic integrations of melancholy narratives and dusty honesty. The mixed bag of Simone Felice is one that offers snippets of a hopeless love in “Stormy-Eyed Sarah,” where the lyrics reel, “Every song is for Sarah;” hushed circumstances of “Hey Bobby Ray” and a blundering ballad of death in “New York Times.” While the forlorn melodies reverberate through whispering choirs and plainly stated reverence, the tracks occasionally lack substance.
It’s pretty obvious with his surname and all, but Simone Felice was formerly a key member of The Felice Brothers, a ragged bunch of musicians from upstate New York with an intimate knowledge of The Basement Tapes. While The Felice Brothers have recently developed their sound to unexpectedly bring synths and auto-tune into the mix, Simone has struck out on his own, stepping out from behind his drum kit first as leader in The Duke And The King and now as plain old Simone. Such a leisurely route to a solo record is typical of Felice, who has the kind of biography that film producers would reject for being too far-fetched - close encounters with death, tragedy and beat poetry all feature along the way.
This debut is never less than pleasant, but only rarely is it truly memorable. James Skinner 2012 Former member of New York State folk-rockers The Felice Brothers, chief member of The Duke & the King and published author to boot, Simone Felice has long been associated with a dusty, widescreen Americana that has gathered numerous plaudits for its honesty, literacy and spirit. Striking out under his own name with this record, the result is a sadly mixed bag of songs that often sags under the weight of its own production values.