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Sam Amidon - Bright Sunny South




Sam Amidon’s second record Bright Sunny South is deep and broad as the Mississippi River, stark as the Arizona desert and rich as Mariah Carey, whose tune 'Shake It Off' features here, just to mess with you.

The title track is an American Civil War song from the perspective of a young Confederate man who has volunteered to fight and is informing his family. Sung in Amidon’s unbeguiling and occasionally flawed tenor, accompanied by acoustic guitar and a mournful key bed.

There are slavery tunes here, old gospel tunes, songs about dead children, dead friends, lovers on their way to be hanged and, ultimately, songs about hope of redemption. In this, Amidon is set apart from the current army of slouch-hatted banjo-twangers in that he has actually done the work. He is not a songwriter. He’s barely a singer. He is a storyteller, a musician who reinterprets and sings songs.

The lyrics to He’s Taken My Feet are taken from Psalm 40, and the melody is that of an old Negro spiritual. The arrangement is like a fastforward from then until now, beginning with one man singing and concluding with what sounds like an electric band falling down the stairway to a morgue, and feels like a man breaking, dying and “shouting salvation” as he flies away. Powerful.

Amidon is accompanied on around half the tracks by various instrumentalists, from the rollicking percussion of As I Roved Out to the untamed electric guitar noise of He’s Taken My Feet to jazz trumpet master Kenny Wheeler’s wild blowing on the time-shuffling I Wish I Wish. Nevertheless, the record feels spacious and simple, even reverential in places.

Author Richard Flanagan once said “although we are an age obsessed with telling it all, it has to be admitted that most of us understand so little that any attempt at telling all is doomed from the outset.” With this in mind, Amidon’s choice of songs is refreshing and unique. Too many singer-songwriters confuse human nature with human experience and presume that, since they are human, their experiences are important enough to be sung about.

Amidon has compiled a compelling and memorable array of stories in song, from 2500 year-old psalms to last decade’s top 40, and celebrated birth, life and death in a way most artists will only ever dream of.
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