Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Iron & Wine - 'Kiss Each Other Clean' Review

Released 24.01.11 - Warner Brothers

With a little over three years since the release of The Shepherds Dog in 2007, Samuel Beam brings us the fourth studio album under the name he found on a dietary supplement in a store whilst shopping, ‘Beef Iron & Wine’. Nice. Well, if his 2007 release repined from the elemental folk of Our Endless Numbered Days, this offering entwines both, sweetening the deal with a little tribal timbre which bounds in and out of focus.

The repetitive and resounding quality within ‘Walking Far From Home’ drops you in through a hole filled with feedback, waning as Beam vocalizes over his observations in crowds, setting himself apart from the casual lives that pass. Crunchier qualities are lifted through choired choruses and the strains of a didgeridoo, lightening the mood in moments of clarity.

Beam really shows his respect for those musical greats who have gone before, ‘Me And Lazarus’ and ‘Glad Man Singing’ at times echoing Chris Rea, and perhaps jimmy Page, in the studied riffs and bubbling bass that lay under Sam’s rhythmic lyrical delivery and silky intonation. ‘Monkeys Uptown’ layers this feel with the elasticity of tribal drums, resounding throughout, entwining in chimes and the very image of rain. In other golden moments, there is a definite feel of the fields and golden sunshine of a hazy festival, ‘Tree By The River’ evokes this place in spades, infectious choruses and striking imagery masterfully dispelling any other thoughts from your head.

Inded, the pace changes so quickly throughout it could make your head spin, but with a guiding hand that seems to be present at all times, and the intertwining of those slower moments with bigger, more peopled tracks, Kiss Each Other Cleam is both dizzying and reassuring. ‘Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me’ speeds through an opening riff, drawing in flutes, trumpets and the odd strain of a saxophone in the style of an eternal jazz band, before slowly extinguishing each instrument, leaving a more peaceful outtro.

Perhaps the finest moments though, come from those stripped-back tracks where Samuels charming vocals and musicianship come to the fore. ‘Godless Brother In Love’ is one such moment, where the piano plays an endless ebbing tune over which the lyrics soar, entwining with simple chords from the mandolin and a sparse backing chorus. It is both achingly beautiful and optimistic.

So Iron and Wine is back, and not a moment too soon. With a track for every moment, from every facet of Samuel Beam’s repertoire, it combines crystal elements of the folkster we love, alongside the more playful elements which dig deeper into the past, making up some of the present. Needless to say Kiss Each Other Clean inspires philosophical thought in the minds of those who are attuned to it!