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. ~ Tim de Lisle
Simone Felice album, out now; British and Irish tour, to May 3rd
Rock at a Glance
Bruce Springsteen (album, March 5th; American tour, March 18th to May 2nd; European tour, May 13th to July 31st).
A ferocious live act returns. The album "Wrecking Ball" is billed as Springsteen at his angriest, a good move after the mellow "Working on a Dream". On tour, the question is how, or whether, the E Street Band replace Clarence Clemons, their saxophonist and talisman.
Coachella (Indo, California, April 13th to 15th, 20th to 22nd).
A bold move from America's Glastonbury, laying on the same line-up two weekends running. The headliners are disparate: the Black Keys (Fri), Radiohead (Sat), Snoop Dog and Dr Dre (Sun). The small print looks promising, wiht Pulp, Cat Power, M. Ward, Gotye and...
Dawes (European tour, Feb 17th to March 6th; American tour, from April 13th).
Literate quartet from the LA canyons whose ablum "Nothing is Wrong" is a treat.
Rocketjuice & The Moon (album March 26th)
Damon Albarn starts yet another band- with Flea, the bassists' bassist, and Tony Allen, the drummers' drummer. ~ TDL