With Kiss Each Other Clean, Sam Beam – the brainchild behind Iron & Wine – crafted one of 2011’s most sublime albums. Incorporating more textures, layers and instruments than his previous three records, it took him further away from the hushed, sparse realm of the singer-songwriter and towards a more tropical, worldly adventure.
It’s a journey that the Austin, Texas-based musician has continued with Ghost On Ghost, on which he’s joined by a vast array of musicians – including members of Bob Dylan’s band and The Jazz Messengers – to create an equally vast array of sounds. The foundation of these songs is still a tender indie folk, but it’s permeated by an inventive infusion of genres: there are tinges of soul, fragments of jazz, further hints of Beam’s fascination with 70s soft rock radio, mild funk grooves and a plethora of more exotic nuances.
It never feels over-done; rather, every flourish feels vital and necessary, whether in the dark ominous grooves of Low Light Buddy Of Mine, the plaintive sadness of Joy or the mellow melancholy of Winter Prayers. Ghost On Ghost completes Iron & Wine’s transformation from simple soul-searching singer-songwriter into fully-fledged bandleader. Beam firmly remains a master at both.