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4.7 out of 5 stars
15
4.7 out of 5 stars
Strangers
Format: Audio CD|Change
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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 25 March 2014
Simon Felice continues to carve out a distinctive route through the winding lanes of alternative country. His approach is essentially a hybrid that infuses this music with a healthy dollop of soul and folk. Since departing from the darker palette of his siblings within the Felice Brothers in 2009, this has given his albums an airy and hugely enjoyable feel. His new album "Strangers" stays firmly in this mould although his song writing gets better each outing and his ear for a melody more finely attuned.

The album stretches across 10 tracks with the breezy opener "Molly-O" building to a huge singalong. Anyone who can in addition rhyme "Poughkeepsie" with "Gypsy" is fine with this reviewer. Following from this commerical start the album does slow dramatically and is populated with ballads like "If you go to LA" and the achingly beautiful acoustics of "The best that money can buy" that revisit the vibe of his first Duke & The King LP "Nothing Gold Can Stay". There a few missteps not least the very slight "Gettysburg" but these are easily outweighed by stronger tracks like the gospel orientated "Running through my head" and the gorgeous "Bastille Day". Additional vocals are provided in the album by his brothers plus Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites of The Lumineers. Darker themes are explored on the standout track the moody pulse of "Heartland", while "Bye Bye Pallanville" charts the sadness of a fathers departure from his children with a excellent vocal by Felice. The good news is that "Strangers" reinforces the consistent upward trajectory of Felice's career, whose departure from one of America's best bands has been fully vindicated by the quality of his subsequent output.
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on 2 April 2014
Simone Felice's second album builds upon his excellent first. It exudes class, confidence and a man on top form. I was a little worried on first listen - 'Molly-O' is a commercial sing-along - pleasant, but ordinary. However, 'If you go to LA' is a beautiful ballad, with guitar, sweeping orchestra, sad, but uplifting, with it's refrain 'Lie lie lie ...' The darkness (in the lyrics) continues with 'Running through my head', a gentle vocal with gentle beats. The chorus, with harmonies woven in and Hammond organ builds up to a glorious chorus, 'Duke and the King' style - great song. 'Our Lady of the Gun' continues in the same mood, 'Did Jesus leave us to beat on our drum? They blew us to pieces in the low desert sun', harking back to the matter in his excellent debut novel. Again, great phrasing, passionate. 'Bye Bye Palenville', is a pleasant piano led ballad and vocal, which again builds slowly into a fuller orchestrated sound.

'Gettysburg' changes the mood - a throwaway song - jaunty, clappy. 'The Best that Money can Buy' mixes sadness with hope - a strummed song with harmony, muted trumpet and xylophone - excellent. Next comes 'Heartland', a poppier (almost 80s) beat - a pleasant filler. 'Bastille day' once again raises the level. He pleas 'won't you let me in', and 'we can run all night' - a sublime song, sung with female harmony. The album closes with 'The Gallows', essentially a man standing on the gallows, but happy to be on his way! Sweeping strummed guitar and vocal.

Simone Felice has not produced a perfect album. There are one or two average songs here. However, the lyrics are superb, his vocal full of passion and heartbreak. The production, though a little glossy in places, builds songs into glorious choruses in an understated but impressive manner, using a full range of instrumentation. And, finally, the songs. There are some absolute crackers - which grow on further listens - more than enough for this reviewer to award 5 stars. Brilliant stuff! More of the same please.
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on 23 April 2014
I have seen Simone live on at least 8-9 occasions, his interaction with the audience and live interpretations of songs are mesmerising and have you trawling your cd collection/iPod immediately as you get home from the show. This is the first record from Simone that gets close to capturing the often incomprehensible energy of his live shows. Tracks such as 'Running through my head', 'Bastille Day' and 'Gettysburg' have a timeless quality and must rank among Simone's best songs to date.
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on 16 June 2014
Another good album from Simone, although a couple of tracks seem to be re works of songs or melodies on Duke and the King albums. If you haven't seen him in concert then make the effort it's always a great night out far more rock than his albums would suggest, enjoy.
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on 23 May 2014
For some reason in all the years I have been listening to American/Alt Country I always avoided the Felice Brothers. This album is a stunner from the first track to the last. Maybe time to look at Simons' back catalogue.
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on 14 October 2014
Found this by accident in a record store - totally engaging, entrancing, lyrical and beautiful music. Bought another copy from Amazon to send as a present. Great songs both haunting and melodic
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on 15 May 2014
I loved Simone felices first album. I think this one is even better
Haven't stopped playing this for weeks. It's a classic.
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on 26 May 2014
Great music like the style and all that - very relaxing to listen to - possibly the best of the brothers Felice
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on 25 September 2014
Nice to listen to occasionally
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on 24 May 2014
New fan of Simone Felice. This album is amazing, constantly on repeat, I would highly recommend it to any one.
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