Simone Felice, by Simone Felice

I once wrote that the Felice Brothers have one capable lead singer at best: while Ian Felice sings more expressively than his brother James, it’s not a pretty sound. But I was overlooking the Catskills folk-rockers’ third brother, Simone. He got a lot of cowriting credits in the family band and sang lead here and there, but mostly he was confined to the drums, which he played confidently if not exactly well.

Now Simone’s left the fold for a solo career, and he sings his gorgeous songs gorgeously. His pure, somewhat warbly voice recalls Jim Croce. But he wraps this craftily around murder ballads and other tales of assorted despair. Adding to the morbid tone, sometimes the spare arrangements don’t quite drown out the click of Felice’s pacemaker, a souvenir of a near-death experience—his second!—at age 34. On “You and I Belong,” however, Felice offers a stirring singalong, bathed in reverb and pop uplift:

And throughout, his gift for melody shines: you may recoil at a song’s starkness and darkness, but soon you’ll be whistling it anyway.

Steve Thorngate

The Century managing editor is also a church musician and songwriter.

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