So the tale goes that one-time member of The Felice Brothers and half of The Duke & The King undergoes open-heart surgery when his childhood congenital defect catches up to him. Then he strikes out to make this, his self-titled debut. And it’s a surprising gem. It starts sombre and stripped back, going a long way to capture the rooms it was recorded in. The arrangements are sparse and stark, capturing an understated beauty. Though it was largely self-produced, Ben Lovett from Mumford & Sons had some helping hands in there and that group pop up to supply harmonies a few times.
The songs use imagery as sparse as the arrangement but capture whole tales in their verses. And you’d except as much from a songwriter with a literary career like Felice’s. The songs turn from the personal to wider social commentary with a deft touch. The balance of lyrics and music echoes a key element on the record – space. Too often all sense of space is squashed out of a record but here Felice allows it to sit nicely amongst the guitars, pianos and harmonies.
At times it feels as though the song might snap in two as it’s carried only by Felice’s delicate and vulnerable breathy voice. At others, the backing vocals come in and propel the song to an ecstatic Elbow-esque climax, albeit notably more stripped back and lo-fi. A fairly accurate comparison would be to Perth’s own Benedict Moleta; stark, understated and fine threads of narrative through the lyrics. It’s not too polished, and it’s not too self-reflective, making it a worthwhile solo debut.
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