Naēm Amor | Hear the Walls
Release date: November 25
Fort Lowell Records
vinyl + digital
Out in Tucson, Arizona, lives a French musician named Naēm Amor. He plays guitar and sings; he writes excellent songs and releases them via various labels. He’s recorded with several artists you might’ve heard of, such as Joey Burns of Calexico and John Parish (PJ Harvey); he’s also done quite a few film scores. Sometimes he tours, across the USA and in Europe. He’s often found playing solo and with local bands in the bars and cafés of Tucson.
Amor has a new album coming out on the Fort Lowell label, and I will attempt to describe and put in context the magic it holds within its grooves or 0101s. First, I am always struck by how Naēm Amor apparently has no feeling for clichés in his songwriting. You might think, Oh really, but I’m telling you it’s true and point out in particular the wondrous ways in which Amor uses the element of harmony in his ostensibly simple songs. It is an awareness of how an expanded harmonic palette will split a song wide open so that in effect you’re hearing many songs, not just one, whose subtle chordal shadings can trigger emotions, memories and perceptions that you’ve perhaps never before experienced, or, if you have, then they’ve been long ago buried in your psyche or perhaps your soul. Robert Wyatt and the High Llamas’ Sean O’Hagan, or Antonio Carlos Jobim or Claude Debussy, some of these might be your best reference points if you’d like to know a little more about how Amor fits into this alternative musical world where sweetness and modernism co-exist in peace; where the sentimentality has to do with the uses of the past, and how it colors the present.
Hear the Walls is sung in French and English, it was recorded directly to magnetic tape, and it zeroes in on the sound of Amor’s guitars (using only one amp and no effects). The songs are drawn sparely, for guitar and voice lightly ornamented with a small string ensemble, flutes, drums, a bit of tambourine or triangle, the mere ghost of electronic keyboards. The album was recorded mostly live, with standup bass courtesy ThŅger Lund of Giant Sand; the spacious production and mix was done by Jim Waters (Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, RL Burnside, Sonic Youth) and Naēm Amor.
So: Twelve new Naēm Amor songs, vocal and instrumental. These songs are reflective, they can be wistful and plaintive, always evocative of a time and place, whether his or yours. Memories and impressions, sensations and feelings: This music emanates from another world –– a much better one –– that somehow resembles our own. Listen, and make it yours.
–– John Payne
Bluefat’s exclusive premiere of Hear the Walls: