With the stock of The Felice Bros still on the rise, Simone Felice split from his brothers and formed The Duke & The King. Their first album Nothing Gold Can Stay received wide acclaim before Felice hit a major stop sign this year – undergoing urgent heart surgery to rectify a problem which saw him operating on only 1/8 of the normal supply of blood. Out of that major event comes Long Live The Duke & The King.
You would expect something either boldly celebratory or darkly reflective from someone who has gone through so much but this record, to its detriment, takes the middle road. The country soul blend that Felice soaks his songs in is almost too easy listening in it’s sweet delivery and as a result there is a blanding out of sorts that distracts attention from the handful of gems.
The single Shaky is shaped by a light funk quality that makes it dance lightly with a nostalgic summer haze. It works wonderfully but just as quickly a song like Children Of The Sun takes things too far into hippy territory with naive lines like “Hello children of the sun, how’s it feel to hold a gun”. Other key moments are the bluesy R&B of Hudson River that sounds like lost 60s classic, the 70s West Coast sound of No Easy Way Out and the dark and sultry Have You Seen It?.
The highlight is the album closer Don’t Take That Plane Tonight with its slow and plodding Crazy Horse groove. Too much of the album though is neither deep enough in its soul or sharp enough in its funk to maintain attention. As an EP this would have been a much stronger release.
this review first appeared in Drum Media