Sam Amidon is classified by most people as an independent folk artist, but on his newest album, Lily-O he experiments with different genres while still keeping true to his roots. Born in Vermont in 1981, Amidon was raised in a home filled with music. Heavily influenced by his parents, Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, who were folk musicians themselves, Sam gained much early training and inspiration from them. In 2001 he self-released a traditional-sounding instrumental album called Solo Fiddle, on which he recorded himself playing Irish-inspired songs on the fiddle. Amidon has been involved with the band Doveman for quite a while as well. The lead musician of the band, Thomas Bartlett, collaborated with Amidon to release the folk musician’s first full-length album, But This Chicken Proved False Hearted (2007). Sam has released three other studio albums within the past seven years, two of which were made in Iceland in order to be produced and mixed by Valgeir Sigurðsson. (This all makes a little more sense when you consider that Amidon is a member of the Icelandic music collective/record label known as Bedroom Community.) Amidon also has ties in Europe, since he married English singer/songwriter, Beth Orton, and moved to London with her and their son.
Apparently Amidon cannot get enough of creating music, since his newest album, Lily-O (September 2014), will be his fifth studio album after recording music for over twelve years! His experience and conformability on the album are very apparent, as well as his fearless approach of blending an array of different genres together. Throughout the ten tracks, your ears will be exposed to tinges of bluegrass, hymns, electronica, indie rock, and beautiful instrumental musings. I think this project did a good job of experimenting with various sounds and vibes while still keeping the consistent thread of folk-feeling music throughout. The first track, “Walkin’ Boss” has a nice traveling tempo created by Amidon’s expert banjo picking skills and laidback vocal style. It’s an excellent first track that gets you bobbing your head, tapping your foot, and leaving your entertained by the clever lyrics about working hard on the job, an everyday task that is universally relatable. “Down the Line”, the next track, is probably the only song that lacks the finesse present on the rest of the album. It’s essentially an indie rock song – more rock than indie – that was created by musicians who specialize in folk music. Not to mention, it is missing the mystical and traditional instrument styles that are consistent in all the other songs.
I have no complaints about any of the other songs. With tracks like “Blue Mountain”, Amidon treats us with a reflective and beautifully pieced together masterpiece that perfectly embodies his mystical and traditional music style. Many of the other tracks sing about themes of redemption and yearning, with melodies and lyrics reminiscent of hymns. “Your Lone Journey” is one of these songs, and would serve a beautiful hipster lullaby. Amidon finishes the end of his album with mellow songs, leaving the listener at peace and fully relaxed. When I was driving in the car listening to Lily-O, it seemed to be the perfect soundtrack to an early morning drive in the backwoods (where I live) or even a foggy afternoon. Well done, Sam Amidon, well done.
DJ Jazzy Jazz is a dj with KSSU Sacramento State’s only student run radio station.