The Duke & the King, named for the duo of confidence tricksters in Huckleberry Finn, will steal your heart.
Nothing Gold Can Stay, their debut release, is shot through with sweet melancholy. Listen closely enough and it will tear your soul -- or just sing along and enjoy the ambience. There aren't any pyrotechnics here, mostly just straight country songs and, although it's a crowded field -- The Avett Brothers, The Felice Brothers -- to name but two, Duke bring a quiet understated elegance to the genre. Simone Felice left his famous brothers in 2009 and formed the band with Robert "Chicken" Burke. Felice delivers his lines in a downbeat manner and the record sounds a bit like you're listening them outside their rehearsal room. Water Spider is a wonderful song with the memorable line "Jesus walked on water, but so did Marvin Gaye/ And Harriet didn't you hear they never caught her, she just slipped away, she skipped away ..." which could be a homage to Harriet Tubman, an African-American Union spy during the American Civil War. There's hardly a bad song on the record but the best is saved for last in One More American Song. Sentimental, sure, but never mawkish. -- Matthew Burbidge Toronto Mail and Guardian