After releasing five albums full of enigmatic takes on traditional American ballads, hymns and work songs, Sam Amidon has returned with his first record of original material – and it’s a stunner. The Following Mountain, his third on Nonesuch Records, is an album that showcases Amidon’s singular gift of marrying reverence for tradition with startling originality. It’s a talent and a perspective that have made him a hotly in-demand collaborator with artists across a wide spectrum of music, from folk to jazz to indie rock to classical; he’s back at FreshGrass, appropriately enough, to participate in Kronos Quartet’s Pete Seeger project, and will play a set with his own band as well.
“His highly personal approach opens a window on the American past and lets us feel it like nothing else around.”
“Sam Amidon takes traditional music and makes it his own. At other times, Amidon weaves his own new tunes into worn, weary, seemingly ageless sagas.” – No Depression
The Following Mountain, the newest solo album by experimental folk artist, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Sam Amidon, will be released May 26, 2017, on Nonesuch Records. Created with producer Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, Regina Spektor) and Amidon’s frequent collaborator Shahzad Ismaily, it represents a new approach for Amidon, who shifts here from his previous norm of re-working traditional folk songs and presents nine wholly original compositions, with some lyrics drawing on traditional sources. The album features a rare guest appearance by drummer Milford Graves, known initially for his work in the 1960s with free jazz legends Albert Ayler and Sonny Sharrock.
The Following Mountain was made during two distinct recording sessions: an initial weekend in Brooklyn where Ismaily and Amidon brought in Graves, percussionist Juma Sultan (Jimi Hendrix), and saxophonist Sam Gendel for a heavily improvised session; followed by time in the studio over the summer in London, where Amidon worked with Leo Abrahams to shape and develop the songs.
“The Following Mountain is a walk through the thickets of the imagination,” Amidon said, “a personal mythology of sounds and visions and characters. It is my first album of original music, but is still linked to the Appalachian music I love, as well as improvisation, beats, Don Cherry, Vermont, London.”
The Following Mountain is Amidon’s sixth album and follows Lily-O, his 2014 Nonesuch Records collaboration with guitarist Bill Frisell.