Slant: Duke & The King

Monday, 17th August 2009

logoThe Duke & the King draw their nom de plume from two characters in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and they derive much of the downbeat tone of their debut, Nothing Gold Can Stay, from Simone Felice's recent, not-entirely-amicable departure from the Felice Brothers.The record finds Felice and Robert "Chicken" Burke on an ambling journey of grifting, lost love and misspent youth. Felice, for his part, can spin one hell of a yarn when he wants to: "Union Street" is a gripping portrait of urban rot, while "Summer Morning Rain" impresses for its disaffect. The album's most clever moment comes in the one-two punch of its opening tracks: The sense of longing conveyed by the narrator on "If You Ever Get Famous" is answered by the you-get-what-you-ask-for tone of "Morning I Get to Hell," which boasts an old-timey reverb in its production that is appropriately ghostly ... When Felice and Burke show a bit more restraint and keep the focus on the storytelling, Gold works as a compelling, soulful folk record.