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Music Review: Amos Lee – Last Days at the Lodge

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Amos Lee bears his soul on Last Days at the Lodge, a Don Was-produced set of tunes that rolls together like a private concert in an intimate setting. The Philly native has spent some serious time getting to know how things work in the industry, having toured with some of the all-time greats like Dylan and Van Morrison. With that experience in tow, Lee is evolving into a trustworthy and expressive alt-folk singer.

Last Days at the Lodge, his third album, sticks principally to the smooth approach that has pleased his fans since his 2005 self-titled debut. The basic components are still around, as most of the songs are unhurried and even-tempered. The production feels heartier, though, as the band’s attendance is felt boldly and the melodies are a bit more inclusive to other instruments than some of his previous work.

A perfect example of the band’s presence is the roomy and upbeat “Truth.” Lee is appropriate as the frontman in this type of Ben Harper rocker, digging deep to his unsophisticated side and throwing out lyrics like “Now they got me here at the lock-down for a crime I did commit” with the bluster of a barroom tough guy.

Lee first picked up a guitar as a college student and, since his discovery by Norah Jones, has since been collecting a nice little fan-base for his brand of folk rock. His humility is evidenced on his approach to each song here, but there are signs that he’s waiting to display a slightly tougher side.

Along with the swagger found on “Truth,” Lee out-preaches his title character on “Street Corner Preacher” in a funky 80s Dylan-esque song that should get some radio rotation.

But for all of the barn-burning songs, Lee cruises right back to his fundamentals for the bulk of Last Days at the Lodge.

The comforting arrangement of Spooner Oldham’s organ and Lee’s towering vocals create the extraordinary “What’s Been Going On,” one of the best tracks on the record, and the rest of the band mines a bit of country music with “Ease Back.”

Amos Lee’s Last Days at the Lodge fits agreeably with a sinking sun on a summer evening, as the upbeat songs won’t crack the mood and the relaxing melodies of songs like “It Started to Rain” and “Kid” will play right into the tranquil radiance of patio lanterns.

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