Sam Amidon describes his newest album, All is Well as “loping”. First of all, I had to look up the definition of the word.  It’s true, it runs along smoothly. But each song builds up and out as it lopes “with bounding steps, as a quadruped.” It possesses the ease of a human’s stride—least amount of extremities involved.  It exudes the style of the animal—the unchecked quality of the music—the instinctual jam and coordination of four legs.

The biped part of he music is in its straightforwardness.  Most of the songs state the title within the first line. Amidon uses simple, antiquated phrases. “In Prodigal Son”, he refers to home as “the place I love so dear.” In “Wild Bill Jones”, he sings, “too old for to be controlled.” His my space page headline is “many concerts in new york in september.”  Plain and simple. But the sincerity of Amidon’s voice is the heart of the music—the quadriped churning away. He is completey uncalculated, almost the way a child sings but with the weather of a man.  Amidon has an instinctual understanding of a lyrics partnership with music, which is even greater with the fact that he is pulling many of these lyrics from old folk songs.  There is a lot of repetition of lines, but every time he repeats a line, he sings it differently, like it is a whole new thought. And this adds to the extraordinary depth of the simple and spare lyrics. Amidon mashes repeated phrases together, over and over, and then layers of voices repeat, and the effect intensifies when layers of instruments repeat.  In “Sugar Baby”, he sings, “I got no sugar baby now, got no honey baby now, got no use for a rocking chair, got no sugar baby now” and this repeats.  One of the guitars bounces, as the other lingers and this repeats. Coordinated extremities. At once the music is something that stirs up the everyday man in the listener to stride forward, while indicting the animal to drop the plan.

All is Well brings to mind being in a group, but in the locked room of one’s own cares and worries. This is how the loping starts—not looking at each other not really thinking about anything, and somebody starts to kinda hum, and then others start to sing a line, and then someone else catches on and then a round starts going and before long everybody is looking at everyone and thinking about everything.  There are some songs that will make you still (“All is Well” and “O Death”).  There are some songs that drift and will make you float away (“Saro” and “Wild Bill Jones”).  And there are some songs that will make you want to move forward on your own two feet, facing the day. “Fall on Your Knees” is one of these.  With its spitfire fingerpicking there sounds to be about five million chickens plucking the strings continuously. But whats unbelievable about the song is Amidon and his band plunge a separate song beneath what is initially heard.  It feels like the difference between what you say and what you want to say.  One of the reasons this album is such a respectable effort is it has so much going on, but maintains the appearance of simplicity.  Every song seems to have an orchestra of horns, fiddles, guitars, violins, and clap machines, played by lions, tigers, and bears.  This loping is truly a man and animals’ effort attributed to Sam Amidon, Nico Muhly, Valgeir Sigurdsson, Ben Frost, Eyvind Kang, Stefan Amidon, and Aaron Siegel.

If you find yourself standing when you know you shouldn’t be, the momentum has grasped you. And if it doesn’t get you at first, just listen to it again, as you notice more the layers, you will surely begin to understand how undeniable this music is.
Albert Einstein said that if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough. All my description to bring it back to the one word the musician describes the music with—loping.  No one can touch a good thing.

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