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Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Sep 20th, 2016

Amos Lee: Spirit

amos-leeAmos Lee
Spirit
(Republic Records)

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Amos Lee’s Spirit takes you on a journey through the horizons of your memory, his endearing tone signifying a promise to hold your hand along the way. Drawing influences from Motown, contemporary jazz, and 70’s folk, he delivers warm vocals filled with soulful inflections all too rare in the music of today. The opening track “New Love” finds the singer under an entrancing spell from his lover and “Lightly” captures the feeling of taking off on the open road with a partner by your side. As you travel through the album you get the feeling that the music is bringing you closer to yourself – these songs trade complexity of instrumentation for simple and soothing melodies that sound as if you must have heard them somewhere before.

After graduating from the University of South Carolina with an English degree, Lee taught in an elementary school before committing to songwriting full-time, at first waiting tables and bartending on the side to pay the bills. He eventually received an extended tour invitation to open for Norah Jones, and her bassist Lee Alexander ended up producing Amos’ first album, the self-titled record that included “Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight” and “Arms of a Woman.” Previous producers also include former Wallflowers bassist Barrie Maguire as well as Calexico’s Joey Burns: Maguire helped Lee with Supply and Demand, which featured “Shout Out Loud” and Burns collaborated with him on Mission Bell, which delivered guest appearances from Willie Nelson and Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam.

Spirit is Lee’s sixth full-length album and first self-produced release. Like John Prine, cited by Lee as one of his earliest musical idols, he doesn’t shy away from telling stories through his songs. “Vaporize” is a celebration of self-medication when the stresses of life become too much to handle, while “Walls” details an honest conversation between the singer and a lover about a faded love that could still be salvaged. “Wait Up For Me” is a letter to a loved one that assures them they aren’t alone in dealing with feelings of emptiness. As an intimate dialogue between the singer and the listener, Spirit is able to create another conversation between the listener and his or her deeper feelings. There is a sense of gratitude in his lyrics that makes you want to hold the people you love even closer and cherish the memories you have of them, both the good and the bad. Lee is a storyteller that can bring the same amount of passion to a love song as he would a song about loneliness. When you sit down to listen to this kind of a talent, you won’t doubt for a second that you’re in good hands.

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Amos Lee: Spirit