Released: January 25th, 2011
Reviewed by: Chris Johnston
First off, as popular as Amos Lee is, I’ve never really listened to him. And after hearing his newest LP, “Mission Bell,” in its entirety, I’m really bummed out that I never gave him a shot before. This record is so SMOOTH. Normally when I sit down to listen to a record, I grab a cup of coffee and put some headphones in and just really let the music sink in. This is really the only way to listen to Mission Bell. It strikes so many different chords that I can’t imagine this not appealing to just about everyone. He’s got this crazy tone to his voice that for one minute it’s nice and silky and then the next, he’s gettin’ down with a bluesy, backwoods, and creole groan. The best thing about it…it WORKS.
There’s a contemporary jam tune called, “Windows Are Rolled Down” that’s about exactly what you think it is. It paints this beautiful picture of a road trip with, you guessed it, the windows rolled down as you take in the sun and then, hours later, the moon. “Corn rows have companion feel, this rocky road and this steering wheel, who do you call to ease your pain, I hope for you to get through this rain.” But then, there’s the fire-starter titled, “Jesus.” I say fire-starter because it’s the grittiest, dirtiest track on this record and begs to be jammed in a dimly lit bar on a lonely Friday night. Lee begs, “Oh Jesus can’t you help me now? Though, I never felt so alone.” Accompany that with a nice, simple blues beat and some dirt-tinged overdrive guitar, and you’re pretty much down in Louisiana hangin out with some locals.
The record as a whole is very enjoyable and has a high replay value. It’s a great soundtrack to anything really. Whether you’re taking the aforementioned road trip or just relaxing at home with a cup of joe, Amos Lee wants to hang out with you. He’ll bring some friends along too. Folks like Willie Nelson and the ever timeless Lucinda Williams will pop in at some point. But I assure you, it’s very good company to have. There’s a reason this record debuted at #1. Amos Lee knows what he’s doing.
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