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This Season: Tim de Lisle recommends the raw tenderness of Simone Felice, a natural frontman with a new solo album...  

From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, March/April 2012

It’s a short journey from the drumkit to the front of the stage, but not many people have made it. Phil Collins managed it with Genesis, and Dave Grohl has flourished since forming the Foo Fighters. Whether either ever quite turned into a front man remains debatable. Simone Felice, on the other hand, is such a natural lead singer that it is hard to imagine him sitting at the back. A 35-year-old from upstate New York, he began as the drummer with the Felice Brothers, found his feet as leader of a fine folk-soul band, The Duke & The King, and now spreads his wings with his first solo album. All along he has been a songwriter, specialising in narrative ballads that are a crafty mixture of the traditional, the contemporary and the unashamedly hippie. The opening track on the new album, “Hey Bobby Ray”, is a case in point, with the stately pace and poise of a potential classic. On stage, Felice is as lithe and louche as a lead singer ought to be, with a voice that combines raw tenderness with reserves of power. And he is a well-kept secret, so you can see him in pubs and clubs. 

Simone Felice album, out now; British and Irish tour, to May 3rd 

Tim de Lisle is editor of Intelligent Life and a rock critic for the Mail on Sunday