Iron & Wine - Ghost On GhostNamed after an irresponsible doctor's advice (maybe), an ongoing course of Iron & Wine is still recommended, even twelve years on from the beginning of treatment. What could be a better medicine than Samuel Beam's rich intonation, inclusive instrumentation, and bitter sweet lyrics? Especially now they have a glossy studio finish on them.
During 2007's 'The Shepherd's Dog', Beam emigrated from the bedroom to the recording studio proper, from the intimate confines of solo home recording to the full-band choreography of 'proper' albums. So of course the side effects of Iron & Wine have changed over the years: from a warm, simple blanket of comfort (as on his cover of the Postal Service's 'Such Great Heights', as heard by everyone in 'Garden State' and then put on every consequent mixtape) to a more complex system of dependency.
In fact, that micromanagement wasn't such a problem on '...Dog' or 2011's 'Kiss Each Other Clean' – those albums still sounded like Beam, only, more so. 'Ghost On Ghost' lets him relax even further, relying on the band to exist as a band of their own – a lot of the music (which incorporates a whole lot of strings, brass, and 'woo-oo-oo' backing vocals; early I&W was mellow folk, this is more 70s, without the cocaine shakes) was written by them, rather than simply taking cues from their bearded leader.
That's because he's a lot happier than on '...Clean', which was a reasonably angry album. Not that 'Ghost On Ghost' is necessarily a barrel of laughs, but it's hard to feel too downcast with the insistent rhythm and infectious chorus of 'Grace For Saints And Ramblers', or 'Caught In The Briars'' bright shiny morning country. Uncomplicated, joyful stuff.