Saturday, August 29, 2009
Glide Magazine review of "Nothing Gold can Stay"
The Duke & The King
Nothing Gold Can Stay
By Doug Collette
August 26, 2009
It would demean The Duke and The King to say it's an offshoot of The Felice Brothers, but Nothing Gold Can Stay does radiate the same rustic (thought slightly ominous) charm of the Catskill Mountain clan’s music.
Simone Felice teams with George Clinton/Sweet Honey in the Rock staple Robert "Chicken" Burke to produce a piece of work that, by dint of a density rooted in detailed production more than compensates for its abbreviated running time (just over thirty minutes).
This painstaking approach, in turn, is a reflection of the carefully-wrought material. "If You Ever Get Famous" is a simple benediction, couched in honest skepticism, cushioned with affection, the emotional content mirrored in the clarity of the acoustic guitars at the heart of the arrangement. If the drum machines sound quietly and irritatingly mechanical within "The Morning I Get to Hell," they're meant to: the singer imagines commiserating with Lucifer in the devil’s eternal playground.
Felice’s fragile voice and tender delivery are particularly affecting as he sings "Still Remember Love," and equally so when, in "Union Street," he addresses the "prettiest girl in town;" meanwhile the quiet horror of 9/11 in New York City haunts in the background of the latter cut via the deeply resonating bass and resounding though muffled drums.
The artist’s pseudonyms taken from Mark Twain's Huck Finn, Nothing Gold Can Stay’s ornate package features a vintage television and a four-track cassette tape but sounds and feels utterly contemporary. When the ambient rush of "Lose My Self" gives way to the back-porch simplicity of "Suzanne," the dobro, harmonica and soft falsetto may not directly recall Bob Dylan and The Band's Basement Tapes, but hearken to that rootsy approach. Yet The Duke and The King, in quietly melancholy but ultimately optimistic songs such as "Summer Morning Rain" and "One More American Song," transcend those influences and any easy comparisons.