The Following Mountain, Sam Amidon’s sixth album overall and his third for Nonesuch Records, is his first album of original songs. A deeply personal synthesis of folk-based song form and experimental improvisation, it “feels like a liberation” (Uncut) and “provides constant, jolting surprises” (The Guardian). But in his decade-long career as a recording and touring musician, the singer and multi-instrumentalist (banjo, guitar, fiddle) has always managed to create work that’s utterly original, even when, as on previous discs, he was digging through the sounds and stories of traditional American music. The Following Mountain features appearances by musicians such as Shahzad Ismaily, master percussionists Milford Graves and Juma Sultan, and psychedelic jazz musician Sam Gendel.
Prior to The Following Mountain, Amidon released five solo albums on the Bedroom Community and Nonesuch labels. Amidon’s material for these albums consists primarily of reworkings of traditional American ballads, hymns and work songs, with the New York Times writing that Amidon “transforms all of the songs, changing their colors and loading them with trapdoors.” The albums have been deeply collaborative in nature, inviting contributions from musicians such as composer Nico Muhly, guitarist Bill Frisell, producer Thomas Bartlett, and improviser Shahzad Ismaily among others. Amidon has also recorded or performed as a guest artist with groups such as Kronos Quartet, Jason Moran, Bon Iver, Tune-Yards, and Amidon’s wife, the singer-songwriter Beth Orton.
“… his highly personal approach opens a window on the American past and lets us feel it like nothing else around" NPR
“The Following Mountain is his first album of largely original compositions, and it provides constant, jolting surprises” The Guardian
“The Following Mountain does more than reverse-engineer Amidon’s past approach of reimagining folk songs. It pushes through the known quantities and traditions of folk music and comes out the other side transformed. It is the destination, the culmination of Amidon’s musical conversations thus far” Aquarium Drunkard
“Amidon’s first album of original songs feels like a liberation” Uncut
“Captivating arrangements and elegiac charm” ★★★★ London Evening Standard
“…surreal and magical” Esquire
“His groaning lamentations on “Fortune” and “Ghosts” creak with the weight of centuries, while the melodies at the heart of “Gendel in 5” and “Juma Mountain” lift like timeless lullabies” Magnet
“Amidon is doing to folk what Arthur Russell did to disco and dance music: The components are taken context-free and mixed around. He can recognize the patterns of bluegrass or jazz or indie rock without being bound to them. The result is compelling” Wondering Sound
“Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Sam Amidon: spokesman for the new, weird America” New York Observer
“In Amidon’s hands, old American songs live and breathe, proving that sometimes irreverence is the best path to faithfulness” NOW Magazine
“Amidon weaves his own new tunes into worn, weary, seemingly ageless sagas” NPR
“Inventive musical excursions” Mojo
“Complementing his work on guitar, banjo, and fiddle, his voice rings with a removed loneliness, colored by the clean, sweet texture” Boston Globe
“Amidon creates songs with familiar traditional tones and structures and bends them in all sorts of unusual directions, from subtly jazzy to quietly psychedelic” Burlington Free Press