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Tuesday, 07 May 2013 09:39

Charting the Music: Iron & Wine, 'Ghost on Ghost'

Charting the Music: Iron & Wine, 'Ghost on Ghost' facebook.com/ironandwine / Craig Kief
Written by Scott Knipshild
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Iron & Wine's latest release "Ghost on Ghost" shows Sam Beam's curiosity for new sounds. The songwriter combines insightful lyrics, hints of jazz, and fresh chord progressions to craft an enjoyable and satisfying listen from start to finish.

With his fifth release, Beam chose to vary his production technique; his previous two albums were recorded at his home studio and took about nine months to produce. "Ghost on Ghost" was primarily finished up in two weeks with the songs all being recorded live with only horn arrangements and backing vocals requiring overdubs.

88.1 KDHX chart position: #5 Adult Album Alternative and #6 CMJ Top 30 for April 30, 2012.

Record label, release date, and producer: "Ghost on Ghost" was released on Nonesuch on April 16, 2013 and was produced by Brian Deck and Sam Beam.

Can be heard on: Bittersweet Melody with Allen Dahm, Rocket 88 with Darren Snow, and Gold Soundz with Chris Bay.

RIYL: Ray LaMontagne's voice, experimental folk fusion, and honest, stripped-down music.

Hometown: Chapin, S.C.

Standout tracks: "Joy" exemplifies the musical direction Iron & Wine follows on "Ghost on Ghost" with a haunting vocal line at the song's core supported by Bean's acoustic guitar and some light percussion. "Singers and The Endless Song" sports an utterly danceable drum beat, a clavinet on the chorus, and some bass lines which surprisingly work well with Beam's vocal.

About the artist: Sam Beam made a living as a professor of film and cinematography at the University of Miami and Miami International University of Art & Design before he found his voice as an accomplished songwriter. Beam's recording and performing moniker came from a dietary supplement called "Beef Iron & Wine" he saw in a general store while shooting a film.

This label: Nonesuch was founded in 1964 with a mission statement to release "fine records at the same price as a trade paperback," which would come out to be roughly half the price of the competition. Nonesuch originally focused heavily on chamber and baroque music but has since broadened its horizon to world, jazz, folk, singer-songwriter and alternative rock.

About the album art: The cover of "Ghost on Ghost" shows a framed and cropped portrait of two lovers straddling each other in their vintage 501 jeans, definitely giving off an '80s vibe.

What the critics say: "As eerie Americana has given way to widescreen folk-rock, [Iron & Wine's] fifth album finds [Beam] backed by Bob Dylan's musicians and drawing softly but deeply on a well of American traditionalism stretching from Simon & Garfunkel to the Beach Boys, with unlikely funk and jazz embellishments along the way." - The Guardian

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