The Sunday Times record of the week

Sunday, 26th July 2009

Nothing Gold Can Stay could hardly have had a sadder origin. Simone Felice, the drummer with the Felice Brothers, had been wondering for a while if it wasn’t time for a change when his girlfriend lost the baby they’d been expecting. With the impermanence of life thus shockingly revealed to him, he realised that he had to follow his heart, and that meant leaving the band he had formed with his brothers and finding a new musical direction. Felice hooked up with an old friend, Robert Burke, and the pair headed off into a cabin in the woods with a copy of Huckleberry Finn. From the book came their name, and from the cabin emerged — as is the way these days — a wondrous album. Yes, a sense of loss does hang heavily over these songs — mainly a sense of lost innocence and the desire to return to simpler times ("If we can only get to Union Street/Then everything will be all right"). But you may be surprised to discover that the music is sweet, soft and, for the most part, hopeful.The ramshackle, Basement Tapes attitude of Felice’s old band has been replaced by a smoother sound that, at times, calls to mind James Taylor or Stephen Stills, although the mixer, Bassy Bob Brockmann, chooses to turn up the drums and turn down the chiming guitars, so things never get too syrupy. The sheer quality of the writing is epitomised by the seductive blue-eyed soul of Suzanne and by Lose My Self, a hook so perfect, it doesn’t need a song around it.- Mark Edwards