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Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight: The Music of Amos Lee

by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Amos Lee appeared in my life unexpectedly one day, in, of all places, the “Suggestions” sidebar on YouTube. I don’t usually put much faith in a computer program’s recommendations of music that I might like, but something made me click on Lee‘s link. Score one for YouTube. I can’t remember which video I watched, but I liked it enough to watch another, then another, and then more. Lee’s voice is a strong presence tempered with rich emotional nuances that pulled me in right away. Lee also takes his time with his music, and I thank him for that. It‘s easy to get lost in his songs, and the way that he meanders purposefully through them allows listeners to follow right alongside him. There’s an emotional heft that runs through each song too, and metamorphisizes constantly; at times, gentle and poignant, at others, absolutely heartbreaking.

“Careless”, from his 2006 album “Supply and Demand”, departs from the conventional song directed at an ex-lover, instead aimed at a close friend who stole away the woman he loved. “Morning” and “Makin’ Love” have a more R&B vibe. Then there are the songs like “Violin”, from this year’s “Mission Bell” album. It’s so painfully beautiful that I immediately downloaded it, added it to my iPod, and have played it dozens of times since.

The versatility of Lee’s music is also a welcome attribute. “Sweet Pea” was the soundtrack for an AT&T wireless commercial a couple of years back, featuring a father on a business trip taking pictures to send back home to his little girl. I remember liking the music, but had no idea that this was Lee’s song. Anyone who’s heard it on TV should definitely do themselves a favor and look up the full version of it.

Then, after steeping myself in Amos Lee’s music for the past month or so, I had a lovely surprise the other night. Lee’s name jumped out at me while I was looking up the acts slated to play at Summerfest, an eleven day music festival in Milwaukee that's coming up at the end of June. I’ll be honest: I might have literally squealed with delight when I saw that he‘s a scheduled artist. Lee will be there on the last day of the festival, July 10th, and now, so will I.