Amos the Kid Secures His Hometown Hero Status with 'Enough as It Was'

BY Myles TiessenPublished May 4, 2023

Walk down any street in Winnipeg with Amos Nadlersmith, better known as Amos the Kid, and someone is bound to stop you and chat. Since moving to Winnipeg from southern Manitoba roughly a decade ago, Nadlersmith has fully immersed himself in every local scene and micro-community of the city. Whether it be film, the outdoor industry or music, most people in Winnipeg would agree he's the local goofball with a nose to the grindstone work ethic. It was a safe bet for Adam Fuhr (of the now-defunct Yes We Mystic) when, in 2020, he launched his new record label and recording studio House of Wonders and named Amos the Kid as its flagship artist. 

With 2020's Mountain View EP, Nadlersmith opened up the family scrapbook to examine the structure of small-town life and mourn the loss of childhood simplicity. His 2021 follow-up EP No More New Ideas turned its eye to the here and now, a romantic portrait of 21st-century love on the prairies. 

Nadlersmith's full-length debut Enough as It Was brings the creative impulses behind his two previous EPs together — his outlaw country blueprint, processed through the alt-rock indie factory of Fuhr's House of Wonders, creates an output that feels both earnest and casual, low-key and daring. The music is a complete fusion of the two minds at play.

The songs on Enough as It Was are grittier, louder, and by far the most confident of Nadlersmith's catalogue, bridging the gap between his carefully wrought studio recordings and the kinetic energy of his effervescent live performances. It also, crucially, peels back some of the hardened, steely cowpoke exterior that Nadlersmith has crafted for himself and reveals the softened heart of a man wrestling with impostor syndrome, debilitating loneliness and anxieties about love. 

When doubt and dread flood his heart and mind, Nadlersmith makes clear his escapist tendencies. "You heard me sing before / About a place in the country with a lake behind the house / That's where I want to return / I will return with you," he sings through his conspicuous vocal twang on opener "World Burn." With its Car Seat Headrest wailing, "World Burn" is a wave of sound that builds and crashes, an eternal wake that carries through the entirety of Enough as It Was

On the clattering title track, Nadlersmith snarls his way through the line "I've been running around / trying to find myself / You've got enough as it was," before ultimately abandoning the desire to sing and ferociously barking his way through lines like "I don't wanna talk out my ass," and drawing out the vowels on the phrase "I'm confuuuused." It's clear he's having fun rambling around and testing the limits of the alt/country genre in which he's finding his place.

Enough as It Was feels as much a celebration of the music that moves him as it does a showcase of Nadlersmith's own spin on the alt-rock canon. Whether it be the Alex G-style vocal distortion on "Hang Your Head," the Songs: Ohia sincerity of "Alright" or channeling the Silver Jews' swing with "Tex Mex in Texas/Alligator Tears," Nadlersmith's songwriting feels like a continuous homage to his influences without ever sounding derivative — the spirits of those artists are all present on the record, but he conjures them in service of his own particular voice.

Though things really take off when Nadlersmith leans into his grungier instincts, one of the album's best songs is the pensive, shuffling "Under Thin Eyelids." The breezy track finds Nadlersmith singing from his lake-shore Adirondack throne, lost in a stream of consciousness lament as he drifts through his vocation in music, relationships, and technology, culminating in a line that reflects his entire ethos: "Hold on, wait up, snap out of it / You're lucky to be here."

Enough as It Was features a few familiar tracks to round out the project, with "What Did You Do" and "Alright" surfacing again after being featured on their respective EPs. The former is a raucous adventure that brings the sort of "Punks In the Beerlight" anthemic chant needed for a good old-fashioned indie/country crossover, while the shaggy momentum of "Alright" nestles nicely into an album of sing-along bops. 

As easy as it is to disappear into Nadelersmith's catchy melodies and brain-tickling lyrics, you can't ignore just how on fire the band is. From the first snap of the beat on "World Burn," the rhythm section rips, guitar solos get increasingly trippy, and the whole crew simply gels. From Jaywood's guitar on "Alright" to Boy Golden's sterling banjo and Jensen Fridfinnson's vocals and violin, it's clear that while Nadlersmith is the face and name, Amos the Kid is a community project. 

Nadlersmith may have an anomalous status as an indie hometown hero, but the talent, work ethic and utterly distinct voice that he reveals on Enough As It Was prove that Winnipeg isn't the only place where people should be stopping him in the street. 
(House of Wonders)

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