Sunday, February 27, 2011

Iron & Wine shows off sense of groove with Kiss Each Other Clean

Genre: Folk/Alternative
Warner Bros.
Running Time: 44:06

Nearing the end of February, we find ourselves at a bit of a crossroads.

January seemed to be a month of change; several artists, including Cage the Elephant and The Decemberists, released records that were significantly different to their previous albums, while the month of March is filled to the brim with exciting and noteworty releases.

February, on the other hand, was mostly devoid of anything I care about, for the most part. Radiohead put out another buzzworthy release, as they often tend to do, but with not much on the horizon it seems like an opportune time to review a favorite recent release of mine that I haven't had time to get around to lately.

Samuel Beam of Iron & Wine has long been known as a guru of folk music, but Kiss Each Other Clean sees the singer/songwriter attempting to expand his palette a bit. There's a distinctly less folk/acoustic feel on this album, and going in I suppose that's what I was expecting. You know, something along the lines of Bright Eyes.

But Beam has often incorporated more of an urban/groove type influence into his tunes, and nothing makes that more evident than Kiss Each Other Clean. The opener, "Walking Far From Home" threw me for a loop right away with the distorted vocal in the opening.

If cuts like "The Trapeze Swinger" and "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" were designed to make your girl get all weepy and starry eyed, many of the offerings found here are crafted to make her get down and shake her booty.

Just listen to the funky horn part on "Big Burned Hand" and tell me you don't want to get down. But fans of earlier Iron & Wine releases will still find much to like here. The album still contains Beam's fantastic sense of songwriting, which includes great lyrics.

"Tree by the River" seems Beam reminiscing to an earlier time with an earlier love, something that many people can easily relate to. However, most of his lyrics don't really focus on anything concrete; they're based more upon creating a dazzling sense of imagery.

Vocal wise, Beam has always had a tenderness to his voice that I've always found to be one of the main appeals of Iron & Wine, and that is still present here. I suppose the main reason why I like this album is because of the great sense of melody combined with clever and intelligent lyricism.  

Kiss Each Other Clean does have more of an alternative/groove type feel than maybe some of his previous works, but Iron & Wine fans can rejoice that Beam is still putting out the type of music we have all grown to know and love.

Score: 85/100

1 comment:

Thaddious Malones said...

I too thought it was a great record. REJOICE!