Skip directly to content
journal

Sam Amidon's Nonesuch Records Debut, "Bright Sunny South," Out Now

  • Tuesday, May 14, 2013
    Sam Amidon's Nonesuch Records Debut, "Bright Sunny South," Out Now

    Sam Amidon makes his Nonesuch Records debut with today's release of his new album, Bright Sunny South. Produced by Amidon with his childhood friend and longtime collaborator Thomas Bartlett (a.k.a. Doveman) and legendary English engineer Jerry Boys (Buena Vista Social Club, Vashti Bunyan, R.E.M.) and recorded in London, the record features a band made up of Bartlett and multi-instrumentalists Shahzad Ismaily and Chris Vatalaro. Jazz trumpeter Kenny Wheeler also makes a cameo. Amidon himself not only sings but also plays banjo, fiddle, acoustic guitar, and piano on the album.

    The Vermont-born and raised, London-based Amidon is known for his reworking of traditional melodies into a new form. In addition to country ballads and shape-note hymns, Bright Sunny South features interpretations of traditional and contemporary songs, including Tim McGraw’s “My Old Friend” and Mariah Carey’s “Shake It Off."

    To pick up a copy of Bright Sunny South, head to your local music retailer or visit iTunes, Amazon, or the Nonesuch Store, where CD orders include a download of the complete album at checkout; the album is also available to purchase there as MP3 and FLAC files.

    "Amidon is not awestruck by the songs he sings, whether they’re several decades or several months old, and that gives his music—especially on his new album—a breeziness that underscores rather than undercuts the songs’ sense of persistent loneliness," writes Pitchfork reviewer Stephen M. Deusner, who concludes by noting "what distinguishes Amidon from the pack of folk revivalists currently enamored with pre-rock Americana: He not only has an impressively deep knowledge of traditional song forms, but takes liberties with the country's past in order to document his own personal present." Read the complete review at pitchfork.com.

    To mark yesterday's UK release of Bright Sunny South, Amidon appeared on BBC 6 Music's Marc Riley show last night to discuss and perform three songs from the new album. You can listen again at bbc.co.uk.

    The album receives four stars from the Guardian, musicOMH, Mojo, and Q, which calls it "exquisitely downbeat."

    "To the uninitiated, Amidon may come across as simply another folk singer, but attentive listening proves otherwise," suggests musicOMH reviewer Steven Johnson. "What sets him apart is threefold; the sheer quality of material, arrangements that show a willingness to deviate from the norm and his wonderfully rich, expressive voice." Read the complete review at musicomh.com.

    The Guardian's Robin Denselow writes that "Amidon’s intriguing new album mixes sparse, no-nonsense treatments of traditional material with unexpected jazz themes and experiment ... A strange but compelling set."

    The album also earns four stars from Mojo. "Amidon reopens his songbook to the lonesome sound of a faint church organ and delicately picked guitar, awakening a spirit of strange, gentle melancholy that runs throughout the album," writes Mojo's Sonny Baker. "Though other instruments emerge from the corners, their sparing deployment against Amidon’s fragile voice lends them a far greater power, like vivid flourishes of colour in a starkly monochrome film."

    Drowned in Sound calls it "Amidon’s most emotionally and tonally complex LP to date." Reviewer Russell Warfield says: "With Bright Sunny South, Amidon has taken a huge step forward as a folk artist, creating arrangements which preserve his musicianship, while deepening the maturity of his interpretive skills."

    This Is Fake DIY reviewer Sam Cleeve concludes: "Amidon mediates between the folk music of his ancestry and the popular music of his day, finding a unique modernity in his marrying of past and present. Consequently, Bright Sunny South feels like a mobile of people and memories, and Amidon its central axis. Nobody's quite sure whether these tales are his own or folk stories passed down through the ages, and they're all the more entrancing for it."

    ---

    Back in the US, the Scripps Howard Newswire gives the album four stars.

    Sam Amidon "has a distinct and mesmerizing style," writes reviewer Chuck Campbell. "He generally sounds like a distant folk ancestor to today’s wave of vibrant Americana, and his choice of material (often traditional songs) and instrumentation and vocals (fiddle, banjo, sometimes shape-note singing) magnify the effect."

    Campbell goes on to describe the title track, as "transcendent," an opening track that "sets the tone" for the album, which is "commanding in its measured quietude." Amidon, he concludes, "is full of surprises. The quiet ones usually are."

    Read the complete Scripps Howard review via the Knoxville News Sentinel at knoxville.com.

    Blurt gives the album four stars as well. "Amidon makes chart topping hits sound like folk songs, and folk songs like indie rock experiments, and everything sound pure, natural, clean and heartbreaking," says Blurt reviewer Jennifer Kelly. "I love the feel of this album, the warmth and clarity of its arrangements, the way that instruments well up in surprising ways around Amidon’s wavery resonances ... This is a subtle album, one that feels sparse at first but opens up to reveal sudden patches of lushness. It is not one thing (folk) or the other (post-rock, post-classical experiment) or even, really a blend of the two, but rather something fresh and idiosyncratic and worth exploring." Read the complete review at burtonline.com.

    Paste magazine says that "Bright Sunny South continues Amidon’s commitment to turn passed-down traditions into a progressive, knowing form of music." Reveiwer Nathan Huffstutter goes on to say: "Amidon relocates his earliest influences and approaches those crossroads with all the maturity and mastery he’s gained as a working artist ... Bright Sunny South features the most accomplished musicianship of Amidon’s career." Read the complete review at pastemagazine.com.

    ---

    Sam Amidon will perform songs from the new album at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City this Thursday, May 16, followed by a European tour of headline shows and festival sets, and returning to the States to tour in June. For additional details on currently announced tour dates, visit nonesuch.com/on-tour

on May 13, 2013 - 1:37pm
Excerpt: 

Sam Amidon makes his Nonesuch Records debut with today's release of his new album, Bright Sunny South. The album receives four stars from the Guardian, Mojo, Q, Blurt, and musicOMH, which notes "his wonderfully rich, expressive voice." Drowned in Sound calls it his "most emotionally and tonally complex LP to date ... Amidon has taken a huge step forward as a folk artist, creating arrangements which preserve his musicianship, while deepening the maturity of his interpretive skills." Scripps Howard Newsire says the "transcendent" opening track "sets the tone."

Copy: 

Sam Amidon makes his Nonesuch Records debut with today's release of his new album, Bright Sunny South. Produced by Amidon with his childhood friend and longtime collaborator Thomas Bartlett (a.k.a. Doveman) and legendary English engineer Jerry Boys (Buena Vista Social Club, Vashti Bunyan, R.E.M.) and recorded in London, the record features a band made up of Bartlett and multi-instrumentalists Shahzad Ismaily and Chris Vatalaro. Jazz trumpeter Kenny Wheeler also makes a cameo. Amidon himself not only sings but also plays banjo, fiddle, acoustic guitar, and piano on the album.

The Vermont-born and raised, London-based Amidon is known for his reworking of traditional melodies into a new form. In addition to country ballads and shape-note hymns, Bright Sunny South features interpretations of traditional and contemporary songs, including Tim McGraw’s “My Old Friend” and Mariah Carey’s “Shake It Off."

To pick up a copy of Bright Sunny South, head to your local music retailer or visit iTunes, Amazon, or the Nonesuch Store, where CD orders include a download of the complete album at checkout; the album is also available to purchase there as MP3 and FLAC files.

"Amidon is not awestruck by the songs he sings, whether they’re several decades or several months old, and that gives his music—especially on his new album—a breeziness that underscores rather than undercuts the songs’ sense of persistent loneliness," writes Pitchfork reviewer Stephen M. Deusner, who concludes by noting "what distinguishes Amidon from the pack of folk revivalists currently enamored with pre-rock Americana: He not only has an impressively deep knowledge of traditional song forms, but takes liberties with the country's past in order to document his own personal present." Read the complete review at pitchfork.com.

To mark yesterday's UK release of Bright Sunny South, Amidon appeared on BBC 6 Music's Marc Riley show last night to discuss and perform three songs from the new album. You can listen again at bbc.co.uk.

The album receives four stars from the Guardian, musicOMH, Mojo, and Q, which calls it "exquisitely downbeat."

"To the uninitiated, Amidon may come across as simply another folk singer, but attentive listening proves otherwise," suggests musicOMH reviewer Steven Johnson. "What sets him apart is threefold; the sheer quality of material, arrangements that show a willingness to deviate from the norm and his wonderfully rich, expressive voice." Read the complete review at musicomh.com.

The Guardian's Robin Denselow writes that "Amidon’s intriguing new album mixes sparse, no-nonsense treatments of traditional material with unexpected jazz themes and experiment ... A strange but compelling set."

The album also earns four stars from Mojo. "Amidon reopens his songbook to the lonesome sound of a faint church organ and delicately picked guitar, awakening a spirit of strange, gentle melancholy that runs throughout the album," writes Mojo's Sonny Baker. "Though other instruments emerge from the corners, their sparing deployment against Amidon’s fragile voice lends them a far greater power, like vivid flourishes of colour in a starkly monochrome film."

Drowned in Sound calls it "Amidon’s most emotionally and tonally complex LP to date." Reviewer Russell Warfield says: "With Bright Sunny South, Amidon has taken a huge step forward as a folk artist, creating arrangements which preserve his musicianship, while deepening the maturity of his interpretive skills."

This Is Fake DIY reviewer Sam Cleeve concludes: "Amidon mediates between the folk music of his ancestry and the popular music of his day, finding a unique modernity in his marrying of past and present. Consequently, Bright Sunny South feels like a mobile of people and memories, and Amidon its central axis. Nobody's quite sure whether these tales are his own or folk stories passed down through the ages, and they're all the more entrancing for it."

---

Back in the US, the Scripps Howard Newswire gives the album four stars.

Sam Amidon "has a distinct and mesmerizing style," writes reviewer Chuck Campbell. "He generally sounds like a distant folk ancestor to today’s wave of vibrant Americana, and his choice of material (often traditional songs) and instrumentation and vocals (fiddle, banjo, sometimes shape-note singing) magnify the effect."

Campbell goes on to describe the title track, as "transcendent," an opening track that "sets the tone" for the album, which is "commanding in its measured quietude." Amidon, he concludes, "is full of surprises. The quiet ones usually are."

Read the complete Scripps Howard review via the Knoxville News Sentinel at knoxville.com.

Blurt gives the album four stars as well. "Amidon makes chart topping hits sound like folk songs, and folk songs like indie rock experiments, and everything sound pure, natural, clean and heartbreaking," says Blurt reviewer Jennifer Kelly. "I love the feel of this album, the warmth and clarity of its arrangements, the way that instruments well up in surprising ways around Amidon’s wavery resonances ... This is a subtle album, one that feels sparse at first but opens up to reveal sudden patches of lushness. It is not one thing (folk) or the other (post-rock, post-classical experiment) or even, really a blend of the two, but rather something fresh and idiosyncratic and worth exploring." Read the complete review at burtonline.com.

Paste magazine says that "Bright Sunny South continues Amidon’s commitment to turn passed-down traditions into a progressive, knowing form of music." Reveiwer Nathan Huffstutter goes on to say: "Amidon relocates his earliest influences and approaches those crossroads with all the maturity and mastery he’s gained as a working artist ... Bright Sunny South features the most accomplished musicianship of Amidon’s career." Read the complete review at pastemagazine.com.

---

Sam Amidon will perform songs from the new album at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City this Thursday, May 16, followed by a European tour of headline shows and festival sets, and returning to the States to tour in June. For additional details on currently announced tour dates, visit nonesuch.com/on-tour

Publish date: 
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 11:00
Article Type: 
featuredimage: 
Sam Amidon: "Bright Sunny South"

Comments

Love the few songs I've heard! Will this see a vinyl release?!

Post new comment