Nonesuch Records Inc.
I hadn’t ever paid Sam Amidon much interest before this record – but Mr. Beth Orton has really delivered here, his banjo and fiddle skills are impressive and his voice has that Appalachian-holler to it, here he reimagines mountain soul as his own version of contemporary folk – the silent (or not actually so silent) star of the record too is Bill Frisell. You could buy this album just for Frisell’s subtle, lovely contributions – but you’ll likely become a fan of Amidon in the process. That’s how it’s been for me anyway.
The opener, Walkin’ Boss, might just make you forget about all that Mumford nonsense, for here is something weathered and rustic and joyously rousing and then it’s to lovely midnight moods on Down The Line, Amidon doing something different with the Eddie Vedder vocal sound, taking it to a new place, the correct place – the warmth of the arrangements in support always soothe too.
Blue Mountains is a slice of country-infused jazz, the title track a gorgeous epic that unfolds in its own time at its own pace – a jagged slice of guitar and some swizzle-stick drums marking a space in the middle.
What really sells this – outside of Frisell’s sublime playing – is that Amidon holds his own as compelling vocalist and dynamic instrumentalist. I hadn’t cared about his work before this but I’ll have to head back and find the gems. There must be more before this and clearly there’s plenty to look forward to ahead. A wonderful album.