Iron & Wine: Kiss Each Other Clean
Iron & Wine
Alternative & IndieFolk
Warner Bros. / 4AD
Imagine a wrap-around country front porch with some Appalachian
mountains in the background. Throw a banjo into a bearded poet’s arms and
that’s what we were introduced to in 2002 when Sam Beam
released his first Iron and Wine album, The
Creek Drank the Cradle.
After seven years of writing, Beam borrowed a four-track recorder from a
friend and made it all happen from his home studio in the Carolinas, where his
rigid acoustic influences hail from. Like being swept up in a warm winter’s blanket,
his storytelling masterpieces have become Beam’s forte.
With numerous EPs and a full-length album released just two years later
in 2004, Iron and Wine turned into an eight-piece band for the pinnacle release
of The Shepherd’s Dog (2007). Beam continued
to address classic existential battles in his lyrics while he began creating
room to engage with new territories of sound. With a more layered consistency
and richness of depth, the album was praised by both fans and critics, and
evidence struck that Beam’s sound had become fully alive.
If that album was Beam’s jump into a beautiful sea of experimentation,
consider his latest album Kiss Each Other
Clean to be the crashing wave. The newborn sonic clutter and political
dishevel that The Shepherd’s Dog brought
has been expounded upon, toyed with and unleashed once again; but this time it
has blossomed into an exquisite work of art.
The interlude’s bass line and spunky synths perfectly accompany the ballad
of ‘Me and Lazarus’ where he turns it up a notch midway with some jazzy horns.
When it comes to Beam’s vocals, though; ‘Godless Brother of Love’ cannot be
missed; it displays his voice like no song ever before. His performance is
moving and embracing, while his sister’s backing vocals top it off perfectly;
creating supremely warming melodies.
‘Your Fake Name Is Good Enough for Me’ turns the album way up and leaves
you wondering what Beam will have up his sleeve next. He keeps it grooving with
a glitzy beat and a rock-heavy chorus as Beam poses one of life’s indelible
questions about love.
Not only does Beam thrive on a visual communication through his lyrics’
imagery, he has turned his solo attempts into a colourful navigation of both
funk and folk, garnering a bit of a psychedelic touch. Beam’s loveable granola
texture is still intact and to top it off, his purring
vocals are sweeter than before.
Each Other Clean definitely does not follow Beam’s run-of-the-mill folk,
the surprise of the album was nothing short of refreshing. It’s a great example
of an artist’s growth and the transformation within.