10 Best Amos Lee Songs
You may know Amos Lee as the guy who wrote the ‘Sweet Pea’ song that has haunted you ever since it played in the father-daughter-stuffed-monkey AT&T commercial that never seemed to disappear from syndication. Lest you were turned off to Lee by that one sampling, you should know that there is more to the Philadelphia teacher-turned-singer-songwriter than that one sugary ditty. He's crafted four albums highlighting his soothing croon, and if you're not yet schooled in his soulful folk sounds, start with this list of the 10 Best Amos Lee Songs. Don’t worry, ‘Sweet Pea’ is nowhere to be found.
‘Baby I Want You’ delivers a simple sentiment, as is usually the case with Amos Lee’s songwriting. His straightforward candor, stripped-down guitar and gentle vocals can be plenty startling and captivating listeners without all the bells and whistles and complexity. Lee has you hanging on every word, and he even throws in an intricate guitar solo toward the end of the track.
While Lee excels in peaceful yet emotive ballads, he also writes some foot-tapping up-tempo tunes. The bluesy ‘Street Corner Preacher,’ next on our list of the 10 Best Amos Lee Songs, is a good example of a him injecting some life into his songwriting and breaking up the mood of the album.
Norah Jones lends vocals on ‘Colors,’ one of the songs from Lee’s self-titled debut that first earned him recognition. The tune may be the reason he was quickly dubbed her male counterpart, and while the comparison has lead some critics to write dismiss Lee's songs as calculated coffeehouse music, ‘Colors’ is pure and earnest, and it makes a compelling case that his talent transcends Starbucks mixtapes.
Calexico frontman Joey Burns produced 2010’s ‘Mission Bell,' and the influence of his band's Latin-infused indie-folk is most apparent in ‘Violin’’s rich and dynamic texture. The track finds Lee combining his signature style with this more lush landscape, and it features harmonies and added vocals from Iron and Wine’s Sam Beam.
Lee once again creates a captivating song with a very simple framework in ‘Black River,’ No. 6 on our list of 10 Best Amos Lee Songs. The singer explores the healing power of nature, religion and whiskey on this gospel-driven tune with a gentle and rhythmic current running throughout.
The deceptively simple and bare-bones nature of Lee’s songs makes him sound almost self-effacing, yet he still manages to write some seriously gripping songs. Case in point: ‘Careless.' Here, he tells a story of infidelity and guilt, effortlessly conveying this emotion with the culminating line, “As you laid beside her / I hope it felt good, my friend.”
Similarly, ‘I’m Not Myself’ stays true to Lee’s tendency toward steady-handedness and not reaching for dramatic peaks and valleys. His consistency makes it all the more impressive when he delivers serious emotion, and here, that moment comes with the line, “Does anybody have a clue / how hard I’ve worked at loving you?”
Lee is commonly described as a cross between James Taylor and Bill Withers, but this sultry tune recalls Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together.' Considering the singer’s inclination to keep things even-keeled, he rarely uses his falsetto, but when he does, it’s truly exceptional.
‘Night Train’ winds as gracefully as its titular subject and finds the singer reflecting on the life of a musician on the road -- or on the tracks, in this case. The song exhibits Lee’s folk side, with beautiful storytelling that matches the gentle movement of his restrained musicianship.
‘Arms of a Woman,’ No. 1 of our list of the 10 Best Amos Lee Songs, again finds the singer-songwriter in conflict with being a constant traveler displaced from home and loved ones. It’s a sweet ballad, demonstrating some of Lee’s loveliest songwriting, as he sings, “I am at ease in the arms of a woman, / although now, most of my days I spend alone, / a thousand miles from where I was born. / When she wakes me, / she takes me back home.”