Philly native Amos Lee says he listened to a lot of Bruce Springsteen before starting work on his latest CD, Supply and Demand. It shows -- not so much in style, but structure. For example, Lee and his cohorts supposedly spent 24 hours straight working on the CD's first single, "Shout Out Loud." The end result is a deceptively well-constructed Everyman anthem that adds layer after layer of music and vocals until Lee gets a full, rich, yet somehow still simple sound. He stretches on Supply and Demand, going from the soulful folk of his self-titled debut to something much more expressive and polished.
He hasn't completely discarded his folk tendencies, but he seems more comfortable with the soft rock and R&B undercurrents that run throughout the CD. "Long Line of Pain," with just Lee on acoustic guitar and Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar, is about as folk-some as he gets on Supply and Demand. Lee dips his toe into the anti-war music pool with "Freedom," a rousing blues-flavored protest number, singing "Freedom is seldom found / By beating someone to the ground" and "We're in the belly of the beast / because we fed it." On the forlorn ballad "Skipping Stone," Chris Joyner's organ and piano work echoes lazy Sunday mornings in a country church. Lee denies that Supply and Demand is melancholy, and that may be true. Through the loneliness of "Shout Out Loud" and longing of "Southern Girl," Lee is, if not upbeat, resolute.
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Lee's stage persona has also developed from the early days when he would just stand at the mike singing, to, well, him still standing at the mike singing, but demanding much more attention while he does. With the way Supply and Demand resonates, he deserves it.