Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song

Amos Lee's rustic Americana is no more authentic than the slick pop he's marketed against. If anything, it's often less distinctive, stitched together from melodies so sweet and clichés so noncontroversial that his ramblin'-man protests – times are hard and he's a stranger in this world – dissolve into the sepia-toned air like fine dust. Things pick up on the second half of Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song, when Lee lets some of his manners slide, but only a little bit. His chops are pro and his delivery almost compulsively spot on, but he's far too thin on what singer-songwriters probably need most: their own point of view.

From The Archives Issue 1194: October 24, 2013