Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean

Release Date: January 25th, 2011
Reviewed by Evelyn Miska Krieger

Iron & Wine’s first album of new material since 2007 remind fans what it is that keeps people coming back. Kiss Each Other Clean is a deceptively simple album, perfect for relaxing and taking in the scenery but can also provoke more introspection than may be initially apparent.

“Walking Far From Home” immediately sets the mood for the rest of the album. Singer and songwriter Sam Beam’s distinctive vocals get a little bit of high-tech treatment, but rather than overpower the track, the effect is used well. “Me and Lazarus” picks things up a little and has a bit more of a funky sound to it, but lest fans worry, it definitely maintains that indie-folk style for which Iron & Wine is known. As with many of the other tracks, there are some added effects, but Beam never lets them overpower his signature sound.

“Tree By The River” is one of the sweetest sounding songs on the album with its gentle melody and tight vocal harmonies. The backing vocals gently carry the song along as it builds and develops. “Half Moon” is similar in many ways making good use of backing vocals and harmonies. At the same time, “Half Moon” allows listeners to enjoy a few little guitar interludes that have a little bit of a twang that adds something unique to the track.

Occasionally there is some instrumentation that could be off-putting if not given a chance, such as on “Rabbit Will Run” which begins with the kind of plunky sounds of a thumb piano and includes some other African instruments. However, even if the sounds are a bit unusual for indie music, the balance of the instruments with the song’s melody make for a perfect mix.

Kiss Each Other Clean is a natural progression in Beam’s music and offers a lot to keep long-time listeners interested while also being accessible to new fans. It may not be an album that immediately leaps to the top of one’s playlist, but a careful listen is well worth the time and minimal effort.


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