Iron and Wine's "Ghost on Ghost" Out Now; "Sublime, A Work of Immense Beauty and Scale" (Uncut)
Iron and Wine makes its Nonesuch Records debut with today's North American release of Ghost on Ghost, the fifth studio album from singer-songwriter Sam Beam using the pen name Iron and Wine. The album was recorded in Brooklyn and produced by Beam’s longtime associate Brian Deck. To pick up a copy, head to your local retailer or online at iTunes, Amazon, or the Nonesuch Store where CD and vinyl orders include a download of the complete album at checkout.
"The song arrangements are lush, filled with exquisite horns, crisp funky snare drums, backing vocals, a variety of natural keyboard sounds, and even pedal steel and vibraphone," writes Associated Press reviewer James H. Collins. "Yet Beam has managed to retain that same heartfelt, soulful feeling that brought him so much attention more than a decade ago when he started."
From its first track, "Caught in the Briars"—"a hell of an opener"—"Ghost on Ghost is a wonderfully produced and assembled record," says Collins, "propelled with joyous momentum even on tracks with darker lyrics ... With each successive album, Beam has been able to gradually expand and layer his sound with taste and dexterity."
Read the complete AP review at sfgate.com.
The New York Daily News gives Ghost on Ghost four stars, citing its "gorgeous and glowing melodies," reminiscent of Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years. American Songwriter gives the album four stars as well. "Every song feels lived in, and radiates palpable warmth," writes the magazine's Jeff Terich; they "sound absolutely sublime."
Sam Beam spoke with Rolling Stone's Ryan Reed about Ghost on Ghost and with SPIN about the inspirations behind the album, which "moves his ruminative, glittering songs further into warmer and more complicated territory than his early acoustic-based works," according to SPIN's Kiran Herbert. "Where the old Iron & Wine material seemed intended for hushed, reverent audiences, the new music might even compel them to dance." Read the piece at spin.com.
Mother Jones calls attention to the album's second track, "The Desert Babbler," and suggests listeners "bask in the radiant warmth of Sam Beam's gorgeous melodies, and if the summery vocal harmonies and mellow horns don't bring a tear to your eye, check those vital signs."
Ghost on Ghost was released in the UK yesterday on 4AD to glowing reviews, not least from Uncut, which rates the album nine out of ten and also calls it "sublime ... a work of immense beauty and scale." Ghost on Ghost earns perfect five-star reviews from the Mail on Sunday, the Independent on Sunday, and the Daily Telegraph, which likens the album to Paul Simon's seminal album as well and concludes: "Swaggering sax, deep rolls of bass and flicks of funk accompany this great songwriter at his most relaxed and direct."
The album earns four stars from Metro, which calls it "a brilliantly written collection and an album of the year," and from Mojo, the Independent, Observer, and the Guardian, which calls the album "Beam's most assured set of tunes to date" in its review.
"Iron and Wine have risen to become one of the great modern American bands as quietly and stealthily as any of their songs," writes the Guardian's Dave Simpson. "As eerie Americana has given way to widescreen folk-rock, their fifth album finds them backed by Bob Dylan's musicians and drawing softly but deeply on a well of American traditionalism stretching from Simon & Garfunkel to the Beach Boys, with unlikely funk and jazz embellishments along the way."
Iron and Wine launches a US tour featuring music from Ghost on Ghost at the Bottle Rock Napa Valley festival in Napa, California, on May 11, followed by a six-night East Coast run with special guests The Secret Sisters, making stops in Pittsburgh, New York City, Philadelphia, Richmond, Boston, and Portland. For additional details and ticket links, visit nonesuch.com/on-tour.