Monday, 23 May 2011

Random Review #61 Calexico & Iron & Wine - In The Reins

C1S2CD3 Picked by @darlingdash, iPad game developer (Pitch ‘n’ Toss and the soon to be released Tiny Lights) worth a follow for a chance to play the games prior to general release.

So a collaboration album between two of the more established members of the Americana music scene, Calexico and Iron and Wine. Both are great artists with fine bodies of work to their name but prior to this release I wouldn’t have put them together as collaborators as their styles were very different. Calexico, who are named after a small town on the Mexican/United States border play music that is influenced by both cultures. Iron and Wine on the other hand is really a vehicle for the Sam Beam who prior to this album played hushed beautiful acoustic songs sometimes sung in nothoing more than a  whisper.

The album is short in length (28 minutes) but not in style. It appears to mark a real turning point in the career of Iron & Wine. When I first bought this album I had to decide where in my music collection I would sort this CD. As someone who sorts their music both by genre and alphabetically a collaboration album can cause quite a quandary, fortunately both artists fall into the Americana genre so that’s not an issue so the next question is which letter should it filed under C or I. On first listen I filed this under C with the rest of my Calexico  CD’s, the reason I did this was it sounded more like a Calexico album than it did a Iron & Wine CD. Although all the songs are written by Beam it sounded like a Calexico album with Beam adding vocals. Listening to this album and seeing where Beam has taken his music now, I wonder if this was a turning point for him to start the progression of his music into his latest album release, Kiss Each Other Clean which sounds very similar to this. On his latest tour Beam was backed by a substantial band and developed his songs into experimental free form versions confusing some of his hardcore fans, but delighting others and gaining new fans who were really impressed with the new sound. So I now wonder whether this album should be filed under I for Iron & Wine, I’ll worry about that later!

This album has 7 beautifully crafted songs, mixing the vocals of Beam with the brilliant musicianship of Calexico, the songs drift into each other and there is not weak link on this album. There are touches of blues (Red Dust) Jazz (Burn That Broken Bed) and country (A History of Lovers) but all are stamped with Sam Beam’s silky smooth vocals.

Both artists are worth looking up on an individual basis but this is a beautifully crafted album that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Mark 8/10

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