The Duke & The King “Nothing Gold Can Stay” – Album of the Year 2009
Much procrastinating going on recently trying to settle on my choices for a Top 20 of 2009, in truth there was little between many of my choices and when I look what I left out it reinforces what a wonderful year it’s being for Americana and Alt-country flavoured music, through all this one album has stood out from the pack and this was the one.
There was a buzz around about this album prior to it’s release and indeed the taster track that was set free If You Ever Get Famous caught my attention immediately, this was an album I had to get my hands on as soon as – and my faith was rewarded because this set of songs went straight to the top of my 2009 albums and nothing released since has had what it takes to change my mind about what would be my top album of the year – and if you twisted my arm for a top ten albums of the decade I’d be hard pressed not to include this one.
The tragic backdrop story to the album is well documented and I won’t dwell on it, but a sadness does permeate this album but there are moments of hope here, glimpses of salvation – it’s not all loss, lies, despair and pining for the past. The writing is top notch and if you don’t already know Simone Felice is a published author, one of his book’s Goodbye Amelia will hopefully arrive with me Christmas morning.
It’s not just the writing and literary references that make this album stand out, the other elements hold up under scrutiny too, Simone Felice’s lead vocal fits hand in glove with the songs, the combination of 70’s folk hero and blue eyed-soul that wraps itself around the lyrics and then there is the wonderful harmonies and support vocals provided by Robert Burke, the Rev Loveday (Nowell Haskins) and Simi Stine. The sympathetic production allows the songs to breathe, to sink into the consciousness – it’s an album which demands your attention and rewards it richly in return.
I’ve heard the band being described as many different things but if your after labelling it then the umbrella genre of Americana would surely fit the best – after all two icons of American culture are prominent, the title Nothing Gold Can Stay pays homage to Robert Frost and the band take their name from Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
No favourite’s on this record the whole albums a work of art, if you need convincing to buy this album then I hope some of the tracks below will help you make up your mind, you can purchase the CD from Loose Records , if you prefer vinyl you can get your hands on an audiophile 180g LP from the guys at Diverse (check our their charity calendar of album covers here) and finally there’s also a lovely Double-7” Inch Gatefold Single of If You Ever Get Famous available from Loose Records, this is backed up by two tracks from the album, Union Street and Still Remember Love as well as an exclusive track One More Year.
From the album If You Ever Get Famous