Amos Lee

By Richardson, Derk | Acoustic Guitar, November 2008 | Go to article overview

Amos Lee


Richardson, Derk, Acoustic Guitar


tHe FOLK-POP SInger-songwriter revels in HIS wildly Diverse inFluences on Last Days at tHe LODge.

If Amos Lee had realized his dream of playing pro basketball, maybe he'd be drawing comparisons to Larry Bird and Steve Nash instead of John Prine and Al Green. But an unexpected detour into writing and performing songs has made this New Jersey-raised Philadelphia native a rapidly rising soul-folk star rather than an NBA all-star. This past June, Lee released his third album, last Days at the Lodge, for the legendary jazz label Blue Note. Though the album was produced by Don Was and features a first-call band, including guitarist Doyle Bramhall Jr., keyboardist Spooner Oldham, bassist Pino Palladino, and drummer James Gadson, Lee's fingerpicked acoustic Gibson is at the core of the arrangements, especially on such songs as "Baby I Want You," "What's Been Going On," and "Better Days."

The vibes and performances of Lee's original repertoire run a wide gamut-from the Memphis soul of "Won't Let Me Go," with a Willie Mitchel-style R&B arrangement supporting Lee's vocal ventures into high falsetto, through the swampy blues of "Truth" and the folkie, John Prine- and Mary Gauthier-like sentiments and phrasing of "ease Back." "There's no genre that I don't like," the 30-year-old singer-songwriter said in phone conversation from his Philadelphia home last spring. "When you ask somebody what kind of music they like and they say, ? like everything except country and rap' how can you say you don't like that whole genre? I grew up listening to Boogie Down Productions and Luther Vandross, and then I wound up really liking Iris DeMent. I just did a thing with Paul Simon ["Paul Simon: American Tunes"] at BAM [Brooklyn Academy of Music], and it was a really diverse group of people-the Roches, Olu Dara, Grizzly Bear, Josh Groban, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings-and just watching all those guys work really inspired me."

Lee's stylistic versatility, which fits the breadth of his lyrics, from love songs and laments to social commentary, may play out as more than just an artistic strength. After paying dues as an opening act for such major acts as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Merle Haggard, Van Morrison, and John Prine, and a host of appearances on late-night television, Lee might be poised for a break into prime time. In his Acoustic Guitar interview, amongst scores of dizzying digressions, the rapid-talking Lee spoke enthusiastically about the influences on, intentions within, and aspirations for his already affecting songerait.

What song on Last Days at the Lodge would you say epitomizes your songwriting approach?

LEE The song that most typifies where I was really at is "It Started to Rain." I got to LA, and I really didn't know many people out there, and I was driving around a lot, because you drive in LA-a whole bunch. The one good thing about driving is you get to listen to a lot of music. I had gotten a copy of Hearts and Bones by Paul Simon, and that's pretty much all I was listening to for a month. There are a few songs in there that were really getting me good, like "The Late Great Johnny Ace" and "René and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War."

I was living in the [San Fernando] Valley, so I would drive over the hills, and I would play those songs over and over again, especially at night. The thing about those songs that was so compelling for me was-and I definitely don't do it as well as Paul does ithe comes up with these really interesting harmonic and melodic twists. I guess you would say it's the bridge in [Simon's] "René and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War." The middle of that song is very cinematic, almost like a play or a musical, like you're on this journey with these two people and all of a sudden, when he sings "Side by side / They fell asleep," the whole thing changes-he just takes you away. He figured out how to make the music, the chord structure, take you to this place where the lyrics would be able to be used to their fullest. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Amos Lee
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.