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Eugene Weekly : Music : 1.20.11


Headed Down to that Mission Bell

Amos Lee takes his new songs on the road

by Andy Valentine

Knowing the perfect soundtrack to play while out on the road is important, but its just as important to find something calming while you rest your bones after a long drive. There are tunes that just sound like road trips, and intentional or otherwise, Amos Lees songs are the epitome. His voice is soft, his arrangements soothing; it all fits together like Tetris.

Lee hits the road Jan. 20, expecting to stop and calm the McKenzie for a night early on in the tour. Hell be backing his fourth album, a poppy collection of his best country-folk anthems. Whether guest appearances on the tour will be a factor is unconfirmed, though Lees new full length, Mission Bell, does contain collaborations with the likes of Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson and Sam Beam. By virtue of this fact, its probably a safe bet that the show wont be the mosh pit of the century, but rather the perfect escape from the cold stress of this New Year.

Mission Bell is a far more personal work than Lees prior releases; it is a poignant, 12-track record that examines the re-evaluation of life, and where to go next.

"Its pretty personal,” Lee says. "Theres always gonna be an outside perspective inspired by other sources, but certainly •Windows Rolled Down is autobiographical.” He goes on to say that "El Camino” and "Flower” also hold weight at a personal level. As for the rest of the tracks on Mission Bell: "Its about half and half,” he says. "I just sort of wait for the tunes to come, and when they come I finish them up pretty quick. If they arent going anywhere, I put them aside, and if they dont come back, it wasnt meant to be.”

Lee has been up to more than just recording Mission Bell. CMTs "Artists of the Year” special saw him crooning delicately alongside the Zac Brown Band, hes got a Daytrotter session to his name and he made waves at Austin City Limits last year. Things seem to be looking up, and this tour should be the icing on the cool cake.

So whether its the rain and cold thats got you down, or your legs are just tired from a hard days work, it shouldnt be all that difficult to stand up in the face of Amos Lee.

Amos Lee, Vusi Mahlasela 8 pm Saturday, Jan. 22. McDonald Theatre. $22.50 adv., $25 door.