Amos Lee: our favorite folk soul brother

A schoolyard nearby is out to recess. The yelps and screams of adolescence drift over walls and echo in the ivy-laced courtyard. Voices and a language I’m not acclimated to just yet. All the same, these sounds are those of vibrance. Not a care in the world.

Youth and its attributes. Something we, as adults, yearn to hold onto any which way we can. I find music to be a common thread, the thread that can take a soul and spin it on its coattails. The music of Amos Lee, that’s the music I’m rendering myself lackadaisical with today. As I sit in a foreign town with the sun bellowing through the open window, that music takes me back. Not a care in the world.

Two weeks have gone by. I still can’t shake the emotion expressed by Lee as we sat four rows back at the Chicago Theater watching him belt a tune with ease, relaxed and unrelenting. Every ounce of his character was in that set and in return Chicago went wild. Wild about him in a way I’ve not seen in some time. No one simply sat in this theatre lined with seats. Most were standing, swaying, singing to each and every tune in unison.  That’s some power and that was some show.

Lee was in Chicago in support of his newest album, Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song, released in October. It didn’t disappoint, blending folk, funk, and soul via the city of brotherly love. Chill in the Air and Mountains of Sorrow were my favorites that night as he so delicately portrayed fleeting love, buyers remorse, and days-gone-by. These were solemn and emotion-packed tunes. Then, Low Down Life, was presented and it was blues and jazz and it was lusty. Danger in the safe havens where sultry guitars roam loose. A divergence on his typical rhythm, blues and folk set. It was something a bit deeper, darker, divine. Each track on the new album was given just dues and a throwback, Sweet Pea, was performed. A song Lee himself joked about, saying that it was the commercial success that finally convinced his family he was famous.

The whole performance went on record as spectacular. Such humble renditions of lyric and tune that could only come from a man who paid his dues coming up. A school teacher, a bartender. Meager beginnings until Blue Note Records picked up on his immense songwriting chops. Five albums in and he’s opened shows in support of Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, and the artist he continuously champions, John Prine, No small feat.

It’s nice to see that his latest endeavor finds him headlining venues nationwide in support of his own brand of song that encompasses folk and soul and sets it all up in front of a band of talented music makers, each lending their immense skill set to the overall production of this elemental sound.

Sealing his fate as an all-around amazing performer was the full band rendition of Queen’s, Fat Bottomed Girls, a song that (for very personal reasons) remains near and dear to my heart. Amos Lee… you’re one gentle, talented, class act.

-Holly Jones, editor, On Tour Magazine

You can catch Lee as he continues to travel the country in support of his talents. His live show is out of this world. I suggest you get out and take a gander.