i see the sign
1. How Come That Blood
2. Way Go Lily
3. You Better Mind
4. I See The Sign
5. Johanna The Row-di
6. Pretty Fair Damsel
8. Rain And Snow
9. Climbing High Mountains
10. Relief (R. Kelly)
The needle-drop fuzz that cues Sam Amidon’s fourth solo album of songs, I See The Sign, raises the curtain on a world of little theatres, foretelling of an aural gut-grip that is fully human and wholly natural. Amidon’s intuitive and often radical reworkings of age-old secular ballads, gospel, folk songs, and hymns render familiar characters new through his direction, vision, vocals, banjo, guitar, and stellar contributions from fellow musicians. Stylus Magazine raved that Amidon’s sophomore solo album, But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted, was “the most interesting folk album of 2007.” In 2008, Bedroom Community debuted his third album, All Is Well, which garnered media enthusiasm as a “a goose-bump-manufacturing sonic pièce de résistance” (CMJ New Music Monthly).
I See The Sign sets the stage for Amidon’s second Bedroom Community release to showcase deft attention to songcraft and collaboration. Where All Is Wellforegrounded voice and strings to share tales of human endurance, I See The Sign is a carefully constructed battle and balance of musical sensibilities surveying the psychological extremes of existence.
Produced & recorded by Valgeir Sigurdsson; featuring contributions from Shahzad Ismaily, Nico Muhly, & Beth Orton
A word from Sam Amidon:
Have you heard of Bessie Jones? She was from North Carolina, but she married a guy from the Georgia Sea Islands and moved there as a young woman. She sang many songs that she had heard growing up, but she also learned the children's singing-game songs on the Islands and sang them with the kids: Way Go Lily and Johanna the Row-di. She played tambourine like Tony Williams played his ride cymbal. She sang low and gravelly. Her tambourine playing is the best rhythms ever. Thanks to my parents for singing her songs for me when I was growing up, and to Beth and Shahzad for singing them with me here.
It would behoove you to listen to a lot more Sonny Rollins. The "deep breath and soft sweep" of his tone, and the hermetic ordering of his melodies and phrasing can have a positive effect on the electrical charges in the human body. So why are you waiting to listen to his music?
Some of the other words and melodies are from other places. I originally learned Climbing High Mountains from Lucy Simpson. Have you read Lulu in Hollywood by Louise Brooks? Do you see the sign? —Sam
"Playing guitar or banjo as he sings, he transforms all of [the songs], changing their colors and loading them with trapdoors. He slows them down and rewrites their harmonies, making curious, arty, quiet pop in his own mood - ornery, sensitive, distant. “I See the Sign” is a seriously intelligent record." - New York Times
“Sam Amidon sees no difference between a 19th-century folk ballad and a 21st-century avant-garde instrumental suite. In bridging the very old and the very new... he has managed to meld the rural and the urban, the organic and the synthetic, the oral tradition and the written score” — Pitchfork
“Sam Amidon reinvents public-domain songs (plus one modern-day ringer) as rustic mood music for watching distant super-novas explode. But the results have none of the musty aftertaste such a description implies, contrasting pretty sounds with violent lyrical undercurrents.” - Spin Magazine
"Sam Amidon's previous LP's have snuck under the radar but this, his fourth, heralds the former folk fiddler as a serious talent" UNCUT - 4/5
"...with Amidon's intimate, unshowy voice (not unlike the late, increasingly feted Arthur Russell) underpinned by melodic, folksy guitars, minimal electronics and the elegant strings of post-classical arranger Nico Muhly, it's ability to beguile is considerable" Q Magazine - 4/5
“The combination of artists on this album deliver such an intense experience and I can’t help but be fascinated by it all. I’m quite in awe to be honest, and I use such words very sparingly when I talk about music. This is certainly his best work to date.” – Folk Radio
“Amidon - with Sigurdsson, Muhly, multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily and on Beth Orton - brings a heightened reality and off-register colour to these black-and-white broadsides.” — MOJO