In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Philly’s pride Amos Lee lost two of his mentors—Bill Withers and John Prine. During this period of external loss and internal soul-seeking, Lee turned to Chet Baker Sings for comfort. “I was drawn to the aching and the tenderness, to the way it expressed sadness with levity,” said Lee in a press release. Recorded with Philadelphia-based jazz musicians David Streim, Madison Rast, and Anwar M. Marshall, My Ideal is his tribute to that music and the meaning it held for him: a song-for-song cover of Chet Baker’s 1956 original.
The project’s lead single is a sparse rendition of Baker’s “My Funny Valentine,” this time titled “My Funny Valentine (For Oskar and Eli).” It’s a faithful cover, but the voice at the center is unmistakably Amos. His performance trades Baker’s droll delivery for something a little more soulful and drama-laden. “I wanted to wear Chet Baker’s shoes for a minute and see what it felt like to walk around in them. It was a revelatory experience. It didn’t just change the way I thought about these songs; it changed the way I thought about myself as a singer and as a songwriter,” Lee says.
Listen to “My Funny Valentine (For Oskar and Eli)” below. My Ideal comes out November 18th on Dualtone Records, and he’ll be performing at World Cafe with his studio band in advance of the album release on the 16th; more info can be found at the WXPN Concerts and Events page.