Sam Amidon - I See The Sign
I first became aware of Sam Amidon shortly after a break-up with my girlfriend. His 2008 album 'All Is Well' seemed revolutionary to me, containing folk sensibilities with Amidon wearing his heart on his sleeve throughout the release and it was something I found myself relating to and continuously listening to as a form of therapy more than anything. Times have moved on and I no longer need Amidons counselling but all the same, I am eager to hear how he has moved on with his new album 'I See The Sign'.
From the off, it's clear the this isn't going to be a reworking of 'All Is Well'. Opening track 'How Come That Blood' is full of bass and violins drifting in and out as Amidon sings in his usually folk alt country way, it isn't as emotional and memorable as I have come to expect but at the same time, it is a change of direction that should be admired and musically, it is more interesting and different than Amidons previous work. 'Way Go, Lily' is more Amidon as we know him, simple guitar melodies and simple song structures done effectively and beautifully with layered orchestral instruments creating the highlight as Amidons subdued and repetitive vocals really make you listen to every lyric. 'You Better Mind' is a folk single if I have ever heard one with Amidons deep vocals harmonised by the soulful Laura Marling-esque female vocals as the catchy guitar line keeps the song steady and violins slowly rise up to engulf you, if you want to hear a track that will make you want to listen to the rest of the album, this is probably it. 'Rain And Sorrow' does pretty much exactly what you would imagine it would from the title, slow and haunting, the cracks in Amidons vocals sending shivers up your spine as he sings "I'm not going to be treated this way" before the drums come in and swiftly drop out to allow space for the minimal piano melody. Lyrically it is a story of pain and struggles and you can really feel it throughout the whole song. 'Climbing High Mountains', another standout track, is a simple campfire sing-a-long song with lyrics that stick in your head until the sun comes up, "I'm climbing mountains, trying to get home".
On the whole, this release is a great start for my 2010. Initially, on first listen, I was utterly depressed, wondering why artists who I adore have to follow up great albums with average ones but after the third listen, the album starts to sit more comfortably with your ears and you embrace it for how different it is to 'All Is Well' rather than slating it because it isn't that album. With all albums there are weak points and this one is no different, some people won't agree with the vocal tone of Amidon and that hasn't changed so much on this release, plus, if you don't like more subtle folk music, then you won't like this album either. That aside, this album is great and it would be difficult not to put Amidon in folks forerunners, at least for this year.
4 / 5