Sam Amidon Covers R. Kelly


This blog’s second sojourn to the Happy Ending Reading and Music Series last week reminded us of Colson Whitehead’s stand there back in April, when the evening’s musical guest, Sam Amidon, covered R. Kelly’s “Relief,” one of the most underrated, if also most exceedingly bizarre, tracks in Kells’ vast catalogue. Amidon, whose woody voice and laidback affect is usually bent toward traditionals like “O Death” and other similarly iterative tracks (such as the one which opens the above video), is an unlikely but effective interpreter of Kelly: here, he highlights both the artist’s unerring ear for triumphant, resolute melodies and the bonkers content of your average R. Kelly song (this one blithely asserts “war is over”). Also, it will not surprise you to learn that drunk patrons in Dublin bars and spiritual, rap-inflected R&B are an abysmal but endearing match.