Here’s what you should do: You should start listening to Sam Amidon’s new album, The Following Mountain, as he and the lord intended, at track one. “Fortune” is a nice, beardy folk song in the tradition of Iron and Wine or early Bon Iver. It’s rainy day nap time music; It’s sweater-wearin’ cabin music; It’s coffee house barista-crushin’-on music. It is, in short, exactly what one would expect from a fashionable guitar-facing folk project.
Here’s what you don’t do: You don’t start listening to the album by dipping in on the album’s last song, “April,” which is a jazzmatazz orgy of sitars, snare drum snaps, Gregorian chanting jabbing minor chords and all other manner of disorganized instrumentation tumbling on top of itself for 11 minutes. It sounds a bit like a string quartet falling down a 20-story stairwell, but in a good way; it makes for an interesting companion piece to the straightforward pretty crooning of the album’s more traditional moments, even if it isn’t something you’d really want to listen to all that much on its own.
So it goes with The Following Mountain, though it never goes quiet as off the rails as it does in its final moments. The little diversions are welcome, though; The sharp angles of “Ghosts” or the glitched whining of “Trouble in Mind.” These bursts of unexpected snuggled up next to strummy songs like “Juma Mountain” and “Blackbrid,” injecting some much-needed life into the very idea of playing guitar in the woods. The only problem with this Nick Drake / Animal Collective-ass construction is that there isn’t enough of it.