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Music Review: 'Ghost on Ghost' by Iron & Wine

By Katelyn Harrop Entertainment Editor

The name Iron & Wine carries the expectation of murmured lyrics and wiry melodies characteristic of an indie-folk recording. But on April 16 the band will release their fifth studio album, Ghost on Ghost, which offers a richness and variety unparalleled by any of his previous works. The opening track “Caught in the Briars” introduces an outstanding 11-piece instrumental band that acts as a consistent tour guide throughout the many styles and tempos exhibited in Ghost on Ghost. The album’s genre teeters between Iron & Wine’s traditional folk groove and jazz fusion. Although it is typical for a band to change its style as its discography grows, Ghost on Ghost graduates Iron & Wine into a new era. The album prominently features Beam’s vocals and experiments with instruments and musical textures. Despite the album’s shift, it maintains the unique down-home style that has trademarked Iron & Wine’s work. This intimate style stems from the beginning of Beam’s career, when the South Carolina-born singer-songwriter was recording his first album, The Creek Drank the Cradle, in his home. Although his subsequent albums were professionally recorded, Ghost on Ghost is undeniably Beam’s most studio-driven album, judging solely by the musical accompaniment. Lyrically, Ghost on Ghost features fantasy-driven imagery that is as descriptive as it is whimsically confusing. “Singer and the Endless Song” pairs beautifully bizarre poetry with funky instrumentals and impressive background vocals. The effect is a refined version of Iron & Wine’s early albums such as Kiss Each Other Clean and Around the Well. After years of sticking to his low-fi roots, Beam is finally finding his place as a unique voice. Ghost on Ghost is undoubtedly one of the year’s most creative and unexpected releases. Its infectious rhythms and poetry form it into something that should not be missed, especially for fans of Simon & Garfunkel or Ray LaMontagne. Check out Ghost on Ghost, currently streaming on First Listen: NPR, or on its officially release on April 16.

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