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Simon Felice - Matters of the Heart
on 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.