Named by Rolling Stone as one of 2005's Top Ten Artists to Watch, Amos Lee has opened for Bob Dylan and toured with Norah Jones. Pretty heady stuff for a 27-year-old from south Philadelphia who had just quit his last job teaching elementary school and released his first-ever album. Critics and music buffs alike were so enamored by his quiet, understated but soulful singing style that it seemed he could do no wrong.
If there's such a thing as a "soul-folk" singer, Amos Lee fits the bill. He grew up listening to the wry musings of singer-songwriter John Prine, while grooving to soul greats Bill Withers and Stevie Wonder. Add his nimble acoustic guitar playing, a breezy jazz sensibility and a down to earth, if not downright charming stage presence, and you've got the makings of a genuine talent.
This performance, recorded on August 10, 2005, captures all the gems from that first album and then some. Possibly nothing sums it up better than the simply beautiful Arms Of A Woman, which sounds like an instant classic that could've come from the likes of Ray Charles. Unlike Ray, Amos was a late bloomer, more interested in basketball than music, until he majored in English in college and tried his hand at songwriting to fine-tune his poetry. Working in a jazz record store and listening to Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk only deepened his passion to pursue his own musical muse. Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight runs the gamut, and Bottom Of The Barrel is a place we can all relate to.
Call it what you will, but this stripped-down music has an honesty and sensitivity that may sound like a throwback to another era, but its appeal is its timelessness. Maybe the best thing about Amos Lee is this is only the beginning!