When the traditionally soft-spoken Iron & Wine released The Shepherd’s Dog in 2007, it was quite obvious that Iron & Wine was departing from beaten path. The album was met with critical acclaim, and was praised for its new sound. With his latest effort, Kiss Each Other Clean, the bearded master of music has changed his style yet again, but this time, to a more focused pop sound.

I previously stated that this album would be Iron & Wine’s “going electric” phase, and would likely polarize his audience much like Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited. Much like that album, Sam Beam hasn’t lost any of his talent for songwriting or arrangement, and his skill shows on practically every track of Kiss Each Other Clean. While album openers, and previous released singles, “Walking Far From Home” and “Tree by the River” steal the show as the most immediately likable songs on the album, all of the other songs are equally as enjoyable to listen to as they carry you off to a place of intimate relaxation. Perhaps the best example of this intimacy is found in “Godless Brother in Love,” a song in which Iron & Wine’s soft arrangement and melody seem to relax every fiber of my being. Equally impressive, “Half Moon” brings back memories of The Shepherd’s Dog more simple tracks, and is quite possibly the song that most resembles the traditional Iron & Wine we knew and still love.

However, the highlight of album for me is found in the sixth track, “Rabbit Will Run.” It’s one of those songs that immediately stick with you. From its onset to its climax, the five minute epic captures you in its intricate and delicate arrangement. It’s a track that is nearly impossible to dislike, and will likely be a favorite for many.

The skill and ability of Sam Beam never ceases to amaze me, and while Kiss Each Other Clean may not be a return to Iron & Wine’s acoustic and gentler side, it is still in fact Iron & Wine. The skillful instrumentation and masterful songwriting are unmistakably Iron & Wine, and the album shines as bright as all of his past efforts, and in some sections, even brighter.

Iron & Wine – Walking Far From Home

’Walking nfar from home’

Iron & Wine – Tree By The River
’Iron & Wine – Tree By The River.mp3′
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