Supply and Demand
Record Review by Adam McKibbin
Amos Lee is still Blue Note’s best bet to join labelmate Norah Jones as a mainstream crossover success story, even if the soulful singer’s road to breakout stardom has been longer than some expected; his self-titled debut seemed to be on the verge of the big time, but never quite got the necessary buzz.
Supply and Demand isn’t necessarily a step forward or backward. Its best songs aren’t as emotionally engaging as the debut’s, and he still gets a little too sanitary and somnolent for his own good, as on the wallpaper-ish “Night Train.” But he also demonstrates increasing range and consistency, and there’s plenty of effortless cool throughout. Again, the arrangements are kept subtle and allow Lee’s vulnerable, soulful vocals to shine.
Supply and Demand is easy on the ears and will be perfectly at home on Triple A radio and coffeehouse speakers, but Lee isn’t without his rough edges—although it’s easy to have doubts after opening track “Shout Out Loud,” in which Lee politely and quietly sings about how he wants to rise up and shout. His social commentary is better expressed on the more up-tempo “Freedom,” in which he shows some rock-ready vocal chops and delivers his most pointed set of lyrics (“Freedom is seldom found / By beating someone to the ground”).
The highlight is the elegant “Careless,” in which Lee’s vocal melody is supported by a mellow R&B choir and a restrained backbone of piano and percussion. He doesn’t always go for the big sing-along chorus, but when he decides to go for it—as on “Careless,” or “Seen It All Before” on the debut—they’re hard to resist, even for the worst shower and karaoke singers.
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