I See the Sign by Sam Amidon on Apple Music

11 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

A child of folkies, singer/guitarist/banjo player Sam Amidon knows plenty of traditional American songs, but his intriguing versions are far from straight up. Singing in an imperfect but appealing voice that brings to mind Will Oldham, Amidon doesn’t lean on the material; instead he lets the songs’ power come through by displaying restraint. The ballads, children’s songs, and religious tunes that appear on 2010’s I See the Sign are gorgeously rendered by Amidon, arranger Nico Muhly, and others. This album is a good example of how the raw and the cooked can be combined to striking effect. The big contrast here is between Amidon’s plain voice and Muhly’s refined string, brass, and wind writing. The pairing works perfectly, in part due to Valgeir Sigurdsson’s superb production. Two of the album’s standouts appear back to back. On the title track, Shahzad Ismaily’s unusual drumming and a dazzling arrangement provide an inventive backdrop for Amidon’s quietly insistent singing. “Johanna the Row-di,” rendered more sparely than the previous cut, is just as touching, and Beth Orton’s backup vocals are lovely.

EDITORS’ NOTES

A child of folkies, singer/guitarist/banjo player Sam Amidon knows plenty of traditional American songs, but his intriguing versions are far from straight up. Singing in an imperfect but appealing voice that brings to mind Will Oldham, Amidon doesn’t lean on the material; instead he lets the songs’ power come through by displaying restraint. The ballads, children’s songs, and religious tunes that appear on 2010’s I See the Sign are gorgeously rendered by Amidon, arranger Nico Muhly, and others. This album is a good example of how the raw and the cooked can be combined to striking effect. The big contrast here is between Amidon’s plain voice and Muhly’s refined string, brass, and wind writing. The pairing works perfectly, in part due to Valgeir Sigurdsson’s superb production. Two of the album’s standouts appear back to back. On the title track, Shahzad Ismaily’s unusual drumming and a dazzling arrangement provide an inventive backdrop for Amidon’s quietly insistent singing. “Johanna the Row-di,” rendered more sparely than the previous cut, is just as touching, and Beth Orton’s backup vocals are lovely.

TITLE TIME
3:28
4:14
3:42
6:11
2:21
3:03
2:54
3:50
3:05
5:21
3:42

About Sam Amidon

Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/artist Samuel Tear, aka Sam Amidon, began playing fiddle at the age of three. Raised by musician parents on a steady diet of Irish and Appalachian folk in Brattleboro, Vermont, Amidon spent the early arc of his teens performing and recording traditional dance and avant folk music with his parents, as well as his own group, Assembly. He added banjo and guitar to his repertoire after relocating to New York City, where he began collaborating with longtime friend Thomas Bartlett (Doveman), as well as a host of other acts like Tall Firs, the Swell Season, and Stares. He released his debut album, Solo Fiddle, in 2003, followed in 2007 by But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted and All Is Well in 2008. Amidon married singer/songwriter Beth Orton and the two had a son in 2011. Output remained strong from Amidon as he entered into family life, with new volumes arriving in the form of 2009's duet with percussionist Aaron Siegel, Fiddle and Drum, 2010's I See the Sign, and for Nonesuch, 2013's Bright Sunny South and 2014's Lily-O. The latter featured guitar legend Bill Frisell. In 2015, But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted was reissued in an expanded edition from Omnivore Records after years out of print. His first album to consist entirely of original songs, The Following Mountain arrived via Nonesuch in 2017. It was produced by Leo Abrahams (Regina Spektor, Frightened Rabbit) and featured guests including veteran jazz drummer Milford Graves. ~ James Christopher Monger

  • ORIGIN
    Brattleboro, VT
  • BORN
    Jun 3, 1981

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