Bedroom Community

Press Reviews for All is Well

Sam Amidon calls New York City home and has spent time playing in the likes of Doveman and Stars Like Fleas. His cohorts on All Is Well include composers Eyvind Kang and Nico Muhly, and the album itself was recorded in Iceland by Björk associate Valgeir Sigurðsson. Second album All Is Well happens, despite its avant-garde pedigree, to be a collection of folk songs—a fact that makes more sense when you glance at Amidon’s website and realize the man’s experience with traditional music runs deep. It doesn’t hurt that his voice falls somewhere between those of Ralph Stanley and Damien Jurado, or that Muhly’s orchestrations find the balance between sparse resonance and raw emotion. The narrator of this traditional song describes coming to this country and leaving the woman he loves behind, eventually settling into a lament. The vocals on Amidon’s version seem offhand at first, but on closer inspection reveal a depth, a subtle way of infusing specific lines with a resigned emotional power—his sense of devotion and regret emerges and endures.

A folk song is malleable. The lyrics, the characters, the story can shift from telling to telling. Pull out your copy of folk writing anthology The Rose And The Briar, or Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads; listen to Lambchop’s take on “The Butcher Boy” beside Damien Jurado’s. In the right hands, a song a century or more in vintage can sound as relevant as one written yesterday; that which is universal about it, that which has survived can be brought to the fore. “Saro” exists in a number of variations: in some, the story begins in 1849; in others, 1749. Some exist as the stripped-down lament presented here, with love and longing considered in a more abstract form; in others, it’s poverty that’s sent the narrator across the ocean and left him bereft. Amidon’s take on “Saro” sounds both timeless and current; presented here as a three-minute dirge, it hits one mournful note that then blossoms into a dozen variations. “I wish I was a poet,” Amidon sings halfway through; and though you believe him, sometimes it’s enough just to know the right way to say the words.

Tobias Carroll

Paperthin Walls (November 28th 2007) ★★★★★★★★★

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Discography

I See The Sign
Released on 19 April 2010
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All is Well
Released on 22 October 2007
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