Simone Felice: Strangers
When Simone Felice left The Felice Brothers in 2009, he ditched his brothersâ€™ ragged, scrappy barroom rock in favor of a more refined type of folk. First with The Duke & the King, then on his debut solo LP in 2012, Feliceâ€™s post-Brothers work owes a debt to Cat Stevens or James Taylorâ€”simple, acoustic, clear-voiced. But on Strangers, Felice forgets to have fun with his own folk songs. Even with members of The Lumineers, the current royalty of loose and acoustic, adding guest vocals, the album is too rigid and crisp for its own good. Some awkward lyrics (â€śAre you a lady or a puff of smoke?â€ť, â€śCan we settle down and make a child? Raise him up like the morning sun over the bayâ€ť) donâ€™t help. Felice is a talented, proven songwriter, and there are glimpses of greatness hereâ€” breezy â€śIf You Go to LAâ€ť takes flight; group sing-along â€śMolly O!â€ť is undeniableâ€” but itâ€™s not enough to turn Strangers into family.