Release Date: Aug 4, 2009
Record label: Ramseur
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Unpretentious Americana from folk royalty The Duke and the King are best known for conning and manipulating their way downriver with Huck and Jim in Mark Twain’s classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the duo has inspired Simone Felice’s (yes, of those Felices) new folk outfit The Duke & The King. Their debut album Nothing Gold Can Stay certainly sounds like it was motivated by a few days lost in thought on a raft, with most tracks featuring a lazy, sun-soaked feel and reflective lyrics. The album is at its sweetest with love-laced tracks like “Water Spider” and “Summer Morning Rain,” but it truly shines when it tackles deeper issues.
For his first release since leaving the Felice Brothers, Simone Felice - partnered by Robert Burke - has taken his new band's name from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. That might lead one to conclude that this is a back-to-the-porch record, unencumebered by acquaintance with modernity. Not so: if anything, this is the musical equivalent of one of those converted barns you see in Country Living magazine, in which the lovingly restored original beams are complemented by the latest designer kitchen.
The Felice Brothers have been building a legion of fanatical fans with their enthusiastic stage show and rough-hewn songs that combine roots rock with poetic lyrics. Last year, the drumming Felice brother Simone left the band to get married and reconsider his place in the musical universe. When he and his wife lost the child they were expecting, Felice holed up in a cabin with his friend drummer/songwriter Robert "Chicken" Burke and created the burnished pop that graces the grooves of Nothing Gold Can Stay.
Smiley. That’s the one, upsettingly impotent word that comes to mind whenever I consider “Nothing Gold Can Stay”. It’s there, in the cross between frothy folk and bluesy Americana, in Simone Felice’s sun-soaked vocal chords, and most of all in his knack for rather silly poetics (more of which later). Incidentally, one piece of promo material I received with The Duke and the King’s debut declared these “twelve songs for summer”.