Simone Felice - New York Times [EP]
Simone Felice is a musician, poet and published author. His latest EP New York Times arrives just six months after the release of his well received self-titled solo album. This new collection, featuring one track off the LP and four others from the same recording sessions, showcases Felice’s subtle and touching Americana but presented in a slightly starker, stripped down way.
As a former member of both The Felice Brothers and The Duke & the King, Felice is no stranger to the experience of the folk musician, from the simple solitary scrawl of pen against paper, to the buzz of performance. However, these last two years, culminating in his first solo endeavours, have fuelled a new vein of creativity.
It will come as no surprise to listeners that Simone’s life has been marked with two close encounters with death and a strange, somewhat lonely and melancholic childhood. Having been diagnosed with Congenital Aortic Stenosis, a condition where the heart isn't pumping blood affectively, Simone underwent emergency open-heart surgery in July 2010. Before entering the operating theatre, he bid farewell to his loved ones, including his wife and unborn child. A procedure of this kind carries with it huge risks. Upon awaking, he was catalysed into renewed artistic action, shying away from the band construct and instead focusing solely on telling stories in the way only his eyes see.
His experiences have left him wide-eyed and in tune with the subtleties of his relationships, and those of the people around him. His voice is honest, often cracks and his delivery has a charming improvisational feel. "She thinks about the baby she lost, and counts its fingers, counts its toes," he cries on 'California', weaving a tale of loneliness against the backdrop of the Californian coast.
'New York Times' is the one taken from the full length and differs from the following four, as its production is expansive, intricate and spacious, rather than simple and hissy. An emotive chord progression on the piano accompanies references to baseball, highways and Times Square. This song acts as a point of departure. Felice is showing us where he’s been, before letting us see where he’s going.
Besides the title track, each song is sparse and has an amateurish quality. They sound like demos, shells that weren't quite compelling enough to make the album. It's clear that there's talent, especially lyrically, but really this release best suits those who are already fans, as it reveals the organic seed of his expression, but doesn’t fully showcase the artist's vision.