Every weekend, I compile a list of what new albums will be released the following week and what musical acts will be on TV. Last weekend, I noticed that Iron & Wine had a new album coming out ("Kiss Each Other Clean") and would be appearing on a late night show or two. Awesome! Who in the world is/are Iron & Wine, though? No matter, I bought the album anyway (and so did enough other people to put it in iTunes' top 10 all week) and gave it a whirl.
First I should establish that Iron & Wine, though it sounds like the name of a band, is actually one person: Sam Beam, who hails from South Carolina. That being said, he seems to travel with an entourage based on his performance on Jimmy Fallon last week. Beam's look is similar to Ray LaMontagne's with the shaggy beard, and one of his backup singers on the Fallon performance was wearing an outfit straight from Little House on the Prairie. Fun fact about Jim Beam: he is married and has five daughters (yes, five!).
While Iron & Wine's sound has somewhat of a folksy sound to it, a lot of the songs are far quirkier than you would expect, both lyrically and musically, and he's not afraid to drop the F-bomb when he feels it's called for. I can't really make sense of the lyrics when reading them, but they create for some enjoyable one-liners within the music.
I have to admit that I have a hard time writing about albums and artists that I'm unfamiliar with. For someone like Iron & Wine, I can't really equate the sound to anything else that I'm more familiar with, and since I don't know anything about his background I can't do much more than regurgitate information I've read online. I can glean based on the comments on iTunes that this album sounds rather different than previous work from Beam, but I personally have no context for that.
My very unprofessional assessment of "Kiss Each Other Clean" is that it has a nice sound and some entertaining lyrics, but I am not so geeked about it that I can't possibly move on to my next project yet. I think that between this and The Decemberists, I might be best to stick with artists I'm a little more familiar with (unless they really knock my socks off, i.e. Fitz & The Tantrums) so I might actually be able to add some value to my reviews. In the meantime, I would recommend "Monkeys Uptown", "Half Moon" and "Tree By the River".
Now let me get back to my assessment of American Idol alums Lee DeWyze versus Crystal Bowersox, which is a bit more my speed!
Filed under: Album Reviews