Sam Beam's earliest presentation, The Creek Drank the Cradle
, was released in '02 and introduced listeners to a gentle, yet vocally charged, representation of Southern folk. Scenically hypnotizing lyrics with minimal recorded treatment helped generate its great popularity. Two years following, Iron and Wine followed up with the release of Our Endless Numbered Days
. Beam provided his fans with little disappointment. The studio recording only ripened his vocals. The release of The Shepherd's Dog
in '07 offered listeners an alternative image of Beam. His music had progressed through his own cultural expansion. Additional instrumental sounds accompanied sweet vocals and his humming acoustic. Although the cynical fan may argue, Beam can do no wrong. His most recent album has once again given audiences a fresh taste of Iron and Wine.
Kiss Each Other Clean
may initially sound unrecognizable. It is Iron and Wine's first album under the Warner Bros. label, after leaving Sub Pop, but this shouldn't sour your opinion. It's apparent that Beam has distanced himself from his placid roots. This more heavily produced album could be identified as a period piece. The addition of electric rhythm is similar to early 70s pop. The pace of the album is significantly faster than his prior while including numerous sound transitions. Although considerable changes exist, his hymnal vocals aren't sidelined by the technical attributions.
In the opening track, "Walking Far From Home", Beam has done the unthinkable. Distortion of his whimsical voice persists nearly a minute long. Beams not f*cking around, and he lets you know immediately. His confidence in this revolutionary style persists throughout the album. "Big Burned Hand" partners a strangely funky rhythm with his distorted vocals. Driven by heavy bass and sax, "Me and Lazarus", has a noticeable uplifting tone.
The album closes with the gem "Your Fake Name is Good Enough", and it most closely resembles the 70s pop which he aimed to mirror. Upbeat and fueled by horns, it's difficult not to compare the sound to bands like Chicago. Prior tracks were merely experiments leading to this final product, a perfect collaboration of the new and the old Iron and Wine. Skeptics fear not; Beam maintains his lyrical style in Kiss Each Other Clean
. The often ambiguous references to nature persevere through the technical innovations.
We listened to Beam's first experiment in The Shepherd's Dog
and he has once again provided evidence of his refusal to confine his artistic talents. Although his earlier work is preferred, it is incredibly difficult to condemn Kiss Each Other Clean
. The bravado that Beam has embodied deserves praise.
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Streaming: Kiss Each Other Clean
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