Iron and Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean
14th February 2011
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Bearded folk marvel Sam Beam has made a long awaited return, his style adapting and sprouting away from the ‘one man and his banjo’ sound that was prevalent throughout his early work.
Kiss Each Other Clean drifts from the rustic southern hum that resonated in Iron & Wine’s debut album, The Creek Drank the Cradle (2002), fusing elements of funk, dub and world music with Beam’s Indie-folk tranquillity. This is undoubtedly a huge step away from a style that made gems such as The Trapeze Swinger and Flightless Bird, American Mouth hugely popular amongst folk-lovers, and those who are truly smitten with earlier Iron & Wine work may find the level of experimentation found here a little off-putting...
Essentially though, it fits perfectly. The almost ballad-like Walking Far From Home starts the journey with tender pianos and cymbals before moving into the rhythmic bassline and freeform saxophone of Me and Lazarus. The funk vibe remains present throughout the album, acid jazz keyboards are complemented with layered vocals and the occasional quirky guitar solo that create a very danceable sound unlike any of Iron & Wine’s previous work. Eventually the album ventures further into the experimental during Rabbit Will Run, which uses panpipes and African percussion to create a strange psychedelic harmony. Lyrically, Beam retains his cryptic song writing style, bursting with sentiment and nostalgic tales with an underlying defiance and critique of western society. The album closes with Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me, which appears to be a collection of numerous songs bundled into one, ending on a beautiful medley of instruments and utilising the repetition of Beam’s voice excellently.
Iron & Wine may have moved away from his conventional style, but the music maintains every ounce of its honesty and simple magnificence. Originality such as this is hard to come by in contemporary music, Kiss Each Other Clean is a must-have for folk lovers or those looking to explore new musical territory.
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