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Kiss Each Other Clean

Sam Beam rips up the Americana rule book on his fourth album, Kiss Each Other Clean. Under the name Iron & Wine, the singer has come far since his banjo-styled, long beard-wearing 2002 debut, developing an extensive palette that steps outside the folk tradition.

This is an album that’s pensive yet can also run riot. Beam has a way with imagery - he’s a painter - and his lyrics are enigmatic and visual, like the poetic list of opposites in opener, Walking far from Home: ‘I saw flowers on a hillside and a millionaire pissing on the lawn.’

The soft focus sparseness of Godless Brother in Love and the ruminative elegy Tree by the River show that something of the rustic template remains - but not much. Witness the squelchy sax of Me and Lazarus or the snaky funk-infused bass line of Monkeys Uptown, which breaks through any folk-induced haze, or the magnificent coda of Your Fake Name Is Good Enough for Me, the last track, which builds in intensity until the album’s final note.

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