Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sam (I) Am.

So, here's this guy Sam Amidon. He does like a Folk Revival kind of thing that wouldn’t necessarily find its way onto my radar. You know: banjo, Irish fiddle, “traditional” music re-iterated, that sort of deal.

Anyhoo, this here Mr. SamAm has got a new album coming out in March, & I’m quite intrigued about it, solely on the basis of this one song that’s circulating now, called “How Come That Blood.”


<a href="">How Come That Blood by Sam Amidon</a>

We’ve got a syncopated rhythmic foundation here, sort of gently percussive, but also sort of droning. What sounds, at first, a bit loopish to me is probably just quick arpeggios on (I‘m guessing) a mandolin? & then shortly there’s violin, though pretty clearly not in any real sort of “fiddle” mode. & then as things progress we get some rumbly bass synthesizering, right? Overall, it gives off a sort of electronica vibe that, on closer listen, isn’t actually there after all. Suffice to say that, musically, it’s a bastard stepchild, pretty far afield of any Folk paradigm of which I’m aware.

All of which just does a great job of (a) catching my interest, and (b) reeling me in. & then I’m all defenseless against the truly dark & creepy lyric re: some kind of brutal fratricide, made all the more chilling via its deadpan delivery. Is it just me, or is this some haunting shit?

& plus, I had no idea if this was, given Samamidon’s pedigree, an actual “Traditional” song (which I sort of doubted, right?), or just made up to sound like one. Shows what I know. Turns out this song has been making people’s skin crawl for, like, a hundred years.

Anyway, I won’t further embarrass myself trying to actually identify the (to my ears) countrified vernacular in use here. But we are clearly in an unfamiliar territory, linguistically speaking, right out of the gate. The lyric is as ostentatiously archaic as the music is self-consciously contemporary. Which makes for just the sort of cognitive dissonance sure to make my pulse race every damn time.

Meanwhile, the singsong, repetitive structure might be reassuring, soothing even, in another context less preoccupied with, um, blood. It only takes a minute & ½ of obfuscation before our narrator owns up: “It is the blood of my / Own dear brother / Whom lately / I have slain.” I get some chills there, I don’t mind telling.

Anyway, that’s the one song we can hear for now. I did try to obtain an early listen to some more of the album, & I got a very courteous email from Mr. Sam himself, who (alas) directed me to inquire directly to his label. Who then ignored me altogether big surprise, so no advance copy for me. March 1 is when I See The Sign comes out.

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