Amos Lee: Mission Bell
An understated thread of urban sophistication ran through Amos Lee’s third album, 2008’s Last Days at the Lodge. That’s not the case on his follow-up album, Mission Bell. Producer Joey Burns and his sun-dazed band Calexico have transported the soul-folk singer/songwriter to a more arid and country-tinged musical geography. Though he hails from Philadelphia, Lee is truly at home in the desert. Lee’s voice has always been his greatest asset and he sounds like a grounded Al Green against the elegant rumba of “Hello Again” and the Staples Singers-sounding “Jesus.” And that’s another new thing for Lee – gospel material. The style suits him, though it’s a little odd to hear his penitent lyrics paired with an easygoing country-gospel shuffle during “Cup of Sorrow.” Even the songs for past and present lovers sound like dispatches of a man on a pilgrimage.