Supply and Demand, the second studio album from Philadelphia native Amos Lee, illuminates his growth from emerging singer-songwriter to established recording artist. From the sparse, powerful, family elegy Long Line of Pain, to the country-r&b flavored title track, Supply and Demand, this album is rich with big league songwriting, compelling musicianship and captivating vocals.
Born to be mild? Amos Lee's sophomore effort for Blue Note follows firmly in the gentle guitar strums of his well-received 2005 debut and opening slots for Norah Jones and Bob Dylan. Little has changed the second time around, which will come as a relief to those enthralled by his first release. He remains a sensitive sort, mixing his insightful, reflective lyrics with lovely, unforced melodies played by backing musicians that stay on low boil. These tunes go down as smoothly as hot chocolate on a cold day, yet Lee brings an unassuming sincerity to the proceedings with his cozy, amiable voice. Comparisons to Bill Withers and James Taylor are accurate if inevitable, but when the gospel organ quivers into "Skipping Stone," it's clear Lee isn't stuck in a folk-pop rut.
Lee's approach is similar to the way Keb' Mo' treats the blues--he injects his cushy personality into an established genre, writes good if somewhat casual songs, and doesn't push the envelope too far. The final third of the album is perhaps too mellow, and a few midtempo tracks could have perked things up. But adult-contemporary fans looking for dependable Sunday morning music will welcome Supply and Demand as a quality follow-up brimming with subtle soul, style, and sophistication. --Hal Horowitz
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