Review: Iron & Wine “Kiss Each Other Clean”

Before I start into the new album (released just yesterday), I should say this: to say I’m an Iron & Wine fan is a gross understatement. I love everything Sam Beam does. I’ve worn out CDs from too much use and abuse in my car. I first heard Iron & Wine in 2004 when their sophomore release “Our Endless Numbered Days” was released. The smooth vocals and seamless acoustic guitar riffs seemed almost transcendent on quiet, cloudless nights. Now that he has followed up his 2007 album, “Shepherd’s Dog”, with the release of the new LP “Kiss Each Other Clean”, that’s all changed.

From start to finish, there will be a nice blend of familiar and alien for fans of Iron & Wine. His voice is still smooth. There is still those quick, rhythmic guitar riffs. However on the new release, they are infused with funky bass lines and the occasional saxophone fill. Which makes one thing official: Sam Beam has gone pop — at least the kind of pop you might have heard on public radio occupied by a band of hippie visionaries in the early 70’s.

Parts of it seem Beach Boys. Parts seem white-man-James-Brown-ish. All is created out of a place of imagination and wonder of a man who should certainly win the Grammy for Best Country Ballad That Came Out of Left Field for the 5th track on the album entitled \”Half Moon\”*. All in all, it’s hard to see where Sam will go next. But if “Kiss Each Other Clean” has proven anything, it’ll be a place worth following.

Cheers,
Eric

*This is the only (good) version I could find and it’s not as “country-ized” as it is on the  album. Enjoy!

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Comments

  1. I guess I’m like your new blog’s biggest fan now. Actually, I happened to get tickets to see them last night and then one of my congregation members (who works at Warner) sneakily slipped the album through the mail slot at my house after he saw that I’d been to the show. I guess it was a promo copy, how cool is that?

    So, the album is awesome I really like the new direction. I’d say it reminds me a bit of Beck Mutations, but Sam Beam has a better voice.

    Anyway, the new stuff was not as good live. It was ok, not terrible, and in retrospect, I think the sound techs were at fault. The opening act had similar balance issues.

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