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. Stay tuned for a World Cafe session, recorded live at WXPN Studios, coming in December.