CD Review of Supply and Demand by Amos Lee

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Supply and Demand
starstarstarstarhalf star Label: Blue Note
Released: 2006
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You hear people talk about “timeless music” all the time, but what does that really mean? Basically, it means that a song can find a home on radio, placed in a movie, or just stuck in your head – and it sounds the same in 2006 as it would have in 1976. Having influences like Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, and John Prine give young artists like Amos Lee the inspiration to write and record the timeless music he does, but it’s so much more than that. You still have to be able to sing the songs and get your point across to an audience. Lee does get that point across with his sophomore release on Blue Note, Supply and Demand, with a collection of songs that are as timeless as that old pair of jeans you have hanging in your closet. And his voice, soulful and distinctive, is the kind of voice that makes you remember exactly where you were when you first heard it.

Supply and Demand kicks off with “Shout Out Loud,” the first single and good table-setter for the rest of the album. The song showcases Lee’s knack for writing melodies that are simple yet like nothing you’ve ever heard before. The dark, bluesy undertones of “Sympathize” give a nice balance to the record, and “Freedom” is also blues-tinged but in more of a Middle America sort of way, a la John Mellencamp. The title track is a lyric-filled romp that brings to mind one of the greatest songwriters of a generation, Paul Simon. And Lee shines like few singer/songwriters out there today on ballads like “Careless” and “Night Train.” Throw in the shuffling “Sweet Pea,” and Amos Lee displays diversity to his music while still holding all of the songs together as a unit.

An artist like Lee is going to draw attention from folkies, blues aficionados, soul followers and many more in between. And while his music doesn’t fit firmly into any of those genres, he doesn’t try to squeeze into them, either. Taken strictly under the realm of pop music, Amos Lee is simply an amazing songwriter that balances the male side of the gender barrier opposite his label mate, Norah Jones. Put Supply and Demand in your CD player, and you might just keep it there for the next thirty years.

~Mike Farley