Iron and Wine “Kiss Each Other Clean”


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#571 in the Series) is Iron and Wine, Kiss Each Other Clean (Warner Brothers US, 4AD Worldwide)

Sam Beam is a chap who may have sneaked under your radar (he did mine for a while), mainly because Iron & Wine is not the type of band to receive mass airplay on radio or T.V.  What they are about, fortunately for us, is crafting superb albums full of beautiful, heartfelt songs.

First some details. Iron & Wine is one of those bands that isn’t really a band at all. It’s basically one man, Sam Beam, who writes and sings and plays on everything. It’s pretty much Sam and whoever he chooses to work with at any particular time.

As I mentioned earlier, he eluded me at first. I remember hearing the name back in 2002 when the debut album came out but can’t recall actually hearing anything. Same with the follow up, “Our Endless Numbered Days.” That one received some great reviews and I made a mental note to check them out. It didn’t happen simply because ……..well, I don’t know really! Other music, and life I suppose just got in the way I guess. In 2007 the next album “The Shepherds Dog” was praised to high heaven and before it even came out I had bought “Our Endless Numbered Days” and had become utterly hooked. It’s a work of pure stripped down genius and I’ve loved everything Sam’s put out ever since.

Which brings us to this particular gem, Kiss Each Other Clean, which is Iron & Wine’s  most recent release and without doubt, barring a late miracle, my nomination for “Album Of The Year 2011.”

When it comes time to write about a particular album it’s always a great help if there’s some fantastic back story attached to it but sadly, in this instance, there is none! The recording sessions did not (as far as I can gather) take place in some dingy basement of a villa in the south of France, the songs weren’t inspired by a horrendous marriage break-up and the lead singer didn’t disappear into the desert as soon as it was finished, never to be seen again, presumed dead or abducted by aliens or in a cult somewhere. Pity really but there you go!

Nah, the only thing you need to know about this one is simply this: the songs, production, arrangements and musicianship are superb………that’s it.

Sam Beam is one of those artists who can, for the duration of the album, take you off on a journey, away with him into his own little world that he’s conjured up. He has a similar vibe to Dylan on “Oh Mercy” or Nick Cave, some black coat clad preacher type, spinning yarns and holding you enthralled.

“It’s more of a focused pop record. It sounds like the music people heard in their parent’s car growing up… that early-to-mid-’70s FM, radio-friendly music.”

That’s what Beam himself reckons and you can certainly hear what he means, fuller and more expansive arrangements than previously are much in evidence. I wouldn’t actually call it “radio-friendly” myself, mind you, but there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s the quality that counts and that’s something this album has in spades.

I thought this one was a certainty for a Grammy nomination in the “Best Alternative Album” category but it seems to have been overlooked, possibly because it came out way back in January. Shame really because I honestly feel it’s better than any of those who made the list. There are similar, but not quite as good, albums from Bon Iver and My Morning Jacket (both excellent as well mind you) on there. Oh well, it’s all about opinions I suppose. Still, I urge you strongly to give this one a try, a very strong work which will easily stand the test of time……………………….

— Stephen Dalrymple, Glasgow, Scotland

Track listing

All songs written by Sam Beam.

Mr. Beam

  1. “Walking Far from Home” – 4:47
  2. “Me and Lazarus” – 3:03
  3. “Tree by the River” – 3:58
  4. “Monkeys Uptown” – 3:48
  5. “Half Moon” – 3:16
  6. “Rabbit Will Run” – 5:30
  7. “Godless Brother in Love” – 3:50
  8. “Big Burned Hand” – 4:12
  9. “Glad Man Singing” – 4:40
  10. “Your Fake Name Is Good Enough for Me” – 7:01


Listen to Iron and Wine Kiss Each Other Clean in its entirety below

Here are some Great Live Versions of selected tracks off the album as well.

Posted by Larry Carta

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