When you’ve rebounded from death twice, I suppose it gives you the right to do whatever you please creatively. On his solo debut, Simone Felice, former member of the Felice Brothers and the soul-folk group Duke & the King, essentially delivers multiple versions of the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.” The violence and “blew his mind out in the car” vibe is carried forth in themes of murder (“Sharon Tate”), assassination (“Dawn Brady’s Song”) and self-destruction (“Courtney Love”). Doesn’t sound all that inviting does it? Wrong. It’s Felice’s hallowing, harmonious sound and strong melodic structures that make these tunes infectiously irresistible in a weird kind of way.
At 12, Simone was pronounced dead minutes after suffering a brain aneurysm and survived open heart surgery only two years ago. To call this Catskills-born poet otherworldly is an understatement at best. Apart from the eerie atmosphere surrounding most of the material, the opener “Bobby Ray” is an arresting choral tour-de-force featuring the Felice Brothers and a high school choir. “You and I Belong” brings a powerful pop-laden hook. “New York Times,” though, will remind you of those early foreboding Simon and Garfunkel tunes like “Richard Cory.” You’ll be listening repeatedly, subject matter aside.
– Jim Hynes