SAM AMIDON – All Is Well

(Bedroom Community)

You, yes you. Lovers of Jim O’Rourke’s circa Bad Timing and Van Dyke Parks (…right, Joanna Newsom’s recent work with him too), there is something here that needs your credit card. One can’t believe how beautiful this album is: for sure it belongs in 2007’s top ten. And I had never heard of this man from Vermont before. Described as a “child of folk musicians”, Sam Amidon – who’s active in fringe indie-rock bands Doveman and Stars Like Fleas in the meantime – is gifted with an “improbably nice” voice: the same monotonous timbre always, no virtuosity, a detached “who cares?” attitude if you will. Yet it sounds, for want of a better word, “warm”. My wife, whose competence as an accomplished songwriter allows her to speak better than myself in this case, found a parallelism with elements of native Indian origin in Sam’s expression. Matter of factly, that voice is just perfect for these tunes, which are nothing but rearranged renditions of popular American favourites, such as “O Death”, “Sugar Baby” and “Wild Bill Jones”. The flawless combination of Amidon’s interpretation (his guitar strumming is also pretty peculiar, and doesn’t hurt at all) with Nico Muhly’s sensitive wind, brass and strings arrangements (listen to those bass lines, and what about the fantastic Irish pipes appearing from nowhere in “Fall On My Knees”?) yields repeated moments of unadulterated emotional rapture. All this, let me stress it once again, through simple songs which do not appear so simple after the treatment. Participants include Ben Frost, Eyvind Kang, Aaron Siegel, Morse and Valgeir Sigurðsson, producer of the artifact and once again confirming himself to be one of the most open-eared talents in that no man’s land between experimental and potentially market-gratifying music. A veritable classic, a standard for comparisons in this genre from now on. Not to be missed.


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