Way back in January, in the comments to one of my earliest Noise Narc posts, Dave recommended All is Well, an album of Appalachian-style folk released in 2008 by Sam Amidon, whom he’d recently seen perform at First Unitarian. I listened to the album and second the recommendation, but when Amidon’s fourth album, I See the Sign, came out later that spring, I never gave it much of a chance.
Like All is Well, I See the Sign was produced with the help of experimental Icelandic musician, Valgeir Sigurðsson, who subtly augments Amidon’s tradfolk lyrics and instrumentation with interesting horn, percussion, electronic noise and drone. The results are mournful, ethereal hymns to hardship and suffering.
Not really summertime music. I See the Sign is pretty much the opposite of King of the Beach.
But there’s a reason why I included this album on Noise Narcs’ Best of 2010: not-so-short-list, and now that the weather is turning cold again, I find myself playing it more and more.
“Rain and Snow” is a traditional folk tune about a man dissatisfied with his wife. It’s been widely interpreted by all sorts of musicians, famously including The Grateful Dead on their 1967 studio debut, but Amidon’s much darker, much more desolate version takes a place among the best. It evokes the fatal serenity, devoid of panic or fear, sometimes described by those who’ve approached hypothermic death and returned to tell of it.