Boomkat Product Review:
I See The Sign is Sam Amidon's fourth collection of songs, following on from his previous Bedroom Community outing, 2007's All Is Well. Hailing from Vermont, Amidon has found a new home within the ranks of Icelandic label Bedroom Community, frequently collaborating with his labelmates. Nico Muhly and Valgeir Sigurdsson were on hand for All Is Well, and Sigurdsson returns for I See The Sign, taking the reins as producer. Consequently, these songs sound remarkably well turned out: on 'Way Go, Lily' Amidon channels Nick Drake while Sigurdsson plays his Joe Boyd, pristinely capturing the central performance with a stark sense of intimacy while string arrangements swell up through the mix. Opener 'How Come That Blood' takes on a gutsier feel, latching onto a rhythmic groove that has a complex, African edge to it. Similarly forthright is 'You Better Mind', a duet with Beth Orton, who in all honesty steals the show a little, though her spirited delivery does seem to spur on Amidon to break free of his more languid vocal tendencies and give a comparatively boisterous performance. Elsewhere on the album a more subdued, hushed lead is entirely fitting: the quietened vocals of 'Johanna Thee Row-Di' and the exceptionally pretty 'Climbing High Mountains' capture Amidon at his plaintive best. Sure to raise an eyebrow or two is Amidon's affectionate and highly successful rendering of R. Kelly's 'Relief'. Of course, Amidon's not the first folk singer-songwriter to take on the R&B icon's catalogue: Bonnie 'Prince" Billy has been known to play rousing covers of 'Ignition' and 'The World's Greatest', and the outcome is similarly favourable here too. Sigurdsson's production helps breathe a sense of space and proportion into Amidon's rather lavish orchestral arrangement, while the singer backs up his reverently delicate delivery with some choice banjo-picking. Lovely stuff this, and you can certainly tell that the record shares some of its personnel with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's The Letting Go. Recommended.