Following last year’s release of his well-received sixth album, The Following Mountain, experimental folk artist, and vocalist, Sam Amidon performed in The Blue Arrow Jazz Bar for Celtic Connections as part of his UK tour. With support from Soham De, the London-based artist drove all the way north to Glasgow in one day to play to a packed out venue an unfortunately tired set.

Sam Amidon, born Samuel Tear Amidon is an American folk artist, hailing from a family of folk artists his parents Peter Amidon and Mary Alice Amidon. His younger brother, Stefan Amidon, is a professional drummer who performs with The Sweetback Sisters among other groups. Amidon attended The Putney School in Putney, Vermont for one year.

Support, Soham De, is clearly influenced by the likes of Paolo Nutini and other soulful pop musicians but there is the sense from his performance tonight that he is still gaining experience in this field. With a shyness and naivety that came across on stage, it meant that his fantastic vocals were unfortunately disguised, veiled by this inexperience in performance, unless this is his trademark style of course. Interesting vocals, however.

As for Sam himself, the headliner of this Celtic Connections show, in 2017 Nonesuch Records released his The Following Mountain, and this moulded the core of his performance. Created with producer Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, Regina Spektor) and Amidon’s occasional collaborator Shahzad Ismaily, the album sees Amidon, who shifts from his previous norm of re-working traditional folk songs to offering nine wholly original compositions, with some references in the lyrics.

Obtuse, experimental, incorporating discord into his music, Sam Amidon is an interesting act to see live. Providing us with some personal anecdotes, including his highlights of driving from London to Glasgow, which he wants us to actually experience, there is an intimacy about the evenings entertainments. However, it is obvious that this decision to make it to Glasgow this way impacts on the playing overall, as there is a tiredness evident as we watch him fumble his way through the set. A stunning set, with tracks I would adore to hear another time when he is perhaps a little more fresh. Sam Amidon’s contribution to folk is revitalising, and I look forward to seeing him again, hopefully when he is not quite so obviously exhausted.

For more on the Celtic Connections 2019 click here.