Thursday, December 02, 2010

Iron & Wine - Walking Far From Home (single) review

Iron and Wine, the moniker for singer/songwriter Sam Beam, is set to release his fourth studio album, Kiss Each Other Clean, on January 25th, 2011.  It will be the first Iron and Wine album released by Warner Bros. after leaving Sub Pop.  The first single from the album is "Walking Far From Home", the CD single being released a few days ago on November 26th.

The strongest traits of Iron and Wine's music is the fact that it is introspective, delicate, and haunting.  It is music that pulls at the heartstrings, Beam's hushed voice accompanied by deft finger picking and a minimalist approach make for intimate and endearing records.  Sadly, this single and it's B-sides are none of those things.

Beam has said that Kiss Each Other Clean will mark a change in direction to his sound, and if this single is any indication, it is the wrong direction.  I know that most people will contest that if an artist fails to mature or to progress, the stagnation that results will ultimately lead to career suicide.  I firmly agree with that, however what Beam has done is take everything that has made Iron and Wine distinct and memorable and traded it for a sound that is mediocre, and that's being generous.  In the three songs that appear on this release, Beam's signature instrument, the guitar, is totally absent.  Instead it is replaced by virtually every instrument that doesn't have strings.  The end result are songs that are muddled and ultimately forgettable.

"Walking Far From Home" contains snapshots of images that are supposed to be poignant, but since they are simply recited, one after the other without any sort of context, any meaning they would have is completely lost.

"Summer in Savannah" is riddled with various percussive instruments, a faint jangly electric guitar riff and a piercing horn that sounds like someone's cover band attempting a song by some kind of Latin-African funk fusion band.

"Biting Your Tail" sounds like it could have been a B-side from The Postal Service.  Beam's sincerity is questionable as it seems as though he's been hanging out in the "magical" bedroom of the lead singer of Owl City.

Our first taste of Iron and Wine's new album, Kiss Each Other Clean, is a bitter one.  The best thing for us to do now is hope that it exceeds my already very low expectations.

Iron and Wine - Naked As We Came
Iron and Wine - Boy With a Coin
Iron and Wine - The Trapeze Swinger
mp3s courtesy of Sub-Pop Records...grab some more here.

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