Sam Amidon has annouced the release of a new album titled Bright Sunny South which will hit the shelves on May 13 also marking his label debut with Nonesuch Records (new home also of Iron and Wine). Sam recorded the album over in here in the UK in London where he is now based, it was produced by Sam along with his childhood friend and longtime collaborator Thomas Bartlett (a.k.a. Doveman) and legendary English engineer Jerry Boys (Buena Vista Social Club, Vashti Bunyan, R.E.M.). The record features a band made up of Bartlett and usual suspect and multi-instrumentalists Shahzad Ismaily and Chris Vatalaro. Jazz trumpeter Kenny Wheeler also makes a cameo.
Whilst Amidon describes Bright Sunny South as a “a lonesome record” the first taster ‘My Old Friend’ which was a hit for Tim McGraw is far from downbeat, Amidon sounds great as always but the musicial arrangements will be a welcome return for many to the ‘rootsier’ feel of his 2007 self-recorded debut, But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted: “There was an atmospheric quality to my last two records; those albums are like a garden of sounds,” says Amidon, “but this one is more of a journey, a winding path. The band comes rushing in and then they disappear. It comes from more of a darker, internal space.”
It’s been said many a time that Martin Carthy’s influence is huge and I don’t mean just the likes of Paul Simon who “learned” the tune for ‘Scarborough Fair’ and went on to make a stack of money from it…Sam was inspired by the unadorned quality of his music in the 1970s, as well as the Ali Farka Touré/Toumani Diabaté duet albums on World Circuit/Nonesuch: “Those are so beautiful. I listened to all of that. I loved the sense of documentation, the unadorned quality. Everything sounded so clear.”
The Vermont-born and raised, London-based Amidon is known for his reworking of traditional melodies into a new form. In addition to country ballads and shape-note hymns, Bright Sunny South features interpretations of traditional and contemporary songs, including a surprising cover of Mariah Carey’s ‘Shake It Off’. The record also includes a version of ‘Weeping Mary’, a shape-note hymn that his parents, Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, had recorded with the Vermont-based Word of Mouth Chorus for Nonesuch Records on the 1977 disc Rivers of Delight: American Folk Hymns From the Sacred Harp Tradition.
Bright Sunny South follows 2010’s critically acclaimed I See the Sign (read our review)an album which broke many a mould as he was joined by Bedroom Community line-up of Valgeir Sigurðsson, Nico Muhly and Ben Frost, as well as his wife Beth Orton who appeared four tracks.