Cover image for Lily-O
Amidon, Sam, arranger, composer.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Nonesuch Records, [2014]

Physical Description:
1 audio disc (48 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Title from container.

Notes on insert.

Compact disc.
Walkin' boss -- Down the line -- Blue mountains -- Pat do this, Pat do that -- Lily-O -- Groundhog variations -- Won't turn back -- Maid lamenting -- Your lone journey -- Devotion.
Format :
Music CD


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FOLKUS .A516 L Compact Disc Central Library
FOLKUS .A516 L Compact Disc Open Shelf
FOLKUS .A516 L Compact Disc Open Shelf

On Order



Vermont-born folk musician Sam Amidon spent much of his recording career reinventing traditional and public domain folk songs and occasionally dropping in a more rustic reading of a modernized R&B tune, effectively bending traditional mountain songs, folk-blues, and Mariah Carey songs around his rusty vocals and pristine arrangements. Beginning somewhere around his 2007 album All Is Well, Amidon began honing his voice and built further upward with each consecutive album. Lily-O may be the finest hour of Amidon's well-refined approach to the seemingly endless well of public domain folk songs, offering some of his most beautiful and daring arrangements yet. Production from noted Icelandic sound sculptor Valgeir Sigurðsson (known for his work with Björk, Sigur Rós, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and a laundry list of other top-tier indie acts) adds a decidedly serious and icy feel to much of Lily-O, but the album is pushed from Amidon's usual state of greatness into a truly exceptional place by the addition of Bill Frisell's always innovative guitar work. Opening track "Walkin' Boss" finds Amidon's steadfast old-timey banjo and throaty voice meeting with spiraling electric leads from Frisell and sturdy rhythms from his longtime collaborators bassist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Chris Vatalaro. The song is a riveting walking blues romp, but when the quartet stretches out into more uncharted territory, Lily-O takes off into before-unseen heights. The electronic touches and dual fiddles that meet on the pastoral "Blue Mountains," the buried feedback squalls that serve as an uneasy bedding for "Maid Lamenting," and the brittle tones from a rogue synthesizer hiding in the corners of "Pat Do This, Pat Do That" are all unexpected and experimental touches that add depth and dimension to the well-worn folk songs. The album reaches its creative summit on the nine-minute title track. Opened with the sole sound of Amidon's raw vocals, the song grows into crashing waves of beauty and dissonance. The tender but tumultuous atmosphere of Frisell's experimental, often-bell like guitar playing dances with twinkling electronic textures. The song grows into a strangulated mesh of looming drums, distorted guitar leads, and Amidon's voice, wandering intentionally in and out of key with the song until the tension eventually breaks. It's one of the most captivating moments on a stellar album, and easily the riskiest. The song cleanses the palate and serves as a gorgeous centerpiece, with tunes on either side of it exploring the various layers of joy and uncertainty that it perfectly expresses. Somehow at once entertaining, comforting, and challenging, Lily-O sees Amidon again pushing his distinctive perspectives through songs that belong to everybody. ~ Fred Thomas