Dark, melancholic pop music
Despite glimmers of hope on Simone Felice’s eponymous debut it was still a wonderfully dark affair; and some ghosts must have been exorcised, because the follow up ‘Strangers’ is a much more optimistic record.
On opening track Molly-O not only will his hardcore fans take delight, but the sound is so delicious it will appeal to a brand new younger audience too.
If You Go To LA is a lot more conservative with a sweeping string orchestration backing an appeal to a long lost past love and it leads us into new territory for the melancholic singer-songwriter.
While Running Through My Head has a well timed string flourish; building to a stunning crescendo, it is more notable for its gospelesque qualities; which I’ve not heard from this singer before. Here, as with Gettysburg, Felice shows off the cunningly executed intellectual and postmodern lyricism that has always been a feature of his song writing.
Our Lady Of The Gun is a darkly crafted anti-war song full of hand claps and foot stomps that create a driving rhythm which will sound amazing when performed live; and The Best That Money Can Buy are probably the most notable tracks that fit alongside his previous works.
If this is folk or Americana then the rules are being well and truly broken; but then anyone who has seen Felice live might expect strong rock and pop influences to make their way into his music and the contempory Pop flavoured Heartland strays furthest from Felice’s previous work sonically; if not in terms of form; and it does work well.
The piano led ballad Bye Bye Palenville explores the fear of paternal abandonment and along with the hopeful and succinctBastille Day takes us back to more familiar Felice territory.
Album closer The Gallows is a real highlight of not only the album but the songwriter’s career, again featuring Felice’s knack for subverting past and present; but also offering pathos drenched melodies.
STRANGERS is a multi-layered album full of stylistic deviations; and does not represent a betrayal of Felice’s original folk/Americana roots; however, his subtle experimentation could well give this the cross-appeal to bring Simone Felice the wider audience and acclaim that his song-writing deserves.
Alan Harrison via Steven K Driver.
released 24th March