Amos Lee – Supply and Demand (2006)
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Amos Lee - Supply and Demand

Those who loved Lee’s 2005 debut are going to lap up Supply and Demand with a spoon. Those who dismissed that debut — wrongly, in my opinion — as music for mothers-in-law will hear nothing to cause regret. The popular jab at Lee’s debut was that it was nothing more than Starbucks music; that Lee was a feckless regurgitator of the kind of vaguely pop-blues-folk songs that made Norah Jones famous.

Personally, I like Norah Jones’ albums; the comparison is meaningless, however, because Lee is really more of an updated Bill Withers. He doesn’t have a lot of Withers’ beautiful grit, but the similarities are there. If you must, call him a funkier James Taylor; that works too. Whatever, there’s more going on in Lee’s album’s than a lot of people will ever give him credit for, probably because he makes it sound so easy.

Don’t get me wrong — this isn’t Still Bill. But such expectations would be seriously unfair. Give Supply and Demand a fair listen, though, and you’ll see it’s a smartly seasoned collection of well-crafted pop songs, certainly pretty enough for mothers-in-law, but substantial enough for discerning music geeks too. There are messages here worth hearing — “Freedom” (download) really might be the best mainstream political song I’ve heard all year — as well as smoothly mournful stuff like “The Wind” (download). And if it all goes down suspiciously easy with coffee and the morning paper, well, greater musical crimes have certainly been committed.

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Jeff Giles

Jeff Giles is the founder and editor-in-chief of Popdose and Dadnabbit, as well as an entertainment writer whose work can be seen at Rotten Tomatoes and a number of other sites. Hey, why not follow him at Twitter while you're at it?

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