Sam Amidon – The Following Mountain review: layers of imagination

The Following Mountain
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Artist: Sam Amidon
Genre: Alternative
Label: Nonesuch

Sam Amidon is not your conventional singer-songwriter. In fact he is not conventional full stop. This is the Vermont multi-instrumentalist's sixth album and it marks a major departure – for the first time he has written all nine tracks. Hitherto he mainly adapted American and European traditional material, using the time-weathered structure of the songs to anchor his dreamy, jazzy soundscapes.

The combination was often breathtaking, his languid otherworldly voice set against moody drones or frazzled polyrhythms, the skeleton of the tune holding everything together. Without these given structures, his own music, steeped in traditional lore, free jazz, African rhythm and beyond, initially struggles for shape.

But pieces like Fortune, Jump Mountain, Another Story Told, given time, reveal layers of cohesive imagination as indeed does the more challenging white noise of Ghosts and the bustling April. A fascinating signpost to the future.