Kiss Each Other Clean is the fourth studio album from American singer/songwriter Samuel Beam, who is more commonly known by his stage name of Iron and Wine.
Anybody who has previously listened to The Shepherd’s Dog, released in 2007, is no stranger to Sam Beam’s ability to create brilliantly effortless acoustic guitar melodies, never highlighted more than in ‘Boy With A Coin’ which floats easily from start to finish, and in the ever popular ‘Flightless Bird, American Mouth’. It is also clear he never lacks substance lyrically either, with certain turns of phrases that hit harder than you would expect to hear from a voice as soft as his. Beam seems to fit into the category of an American folk singer, but he certainly carries a kick.
Bearded Beam begins the album with the released song ‘Walking Far From Home’. Picking up from where he left off four years ago, the song is smooth and easy to digest, but Beam’s wise lyrics make sure it is far from forgettable. Slipping in words like “Heaven” and “Sinners” and “Believers” means that the relaxing melody carries a heavy weight. This is extrapolated throughout the album, and religious references are present in a few of the songs.
Musically the album has a lot to offer. ‘Tree by the River’ is catchy and uplifting, and is reminiscent of a pop love song. ‘Rabbit Will Run’ is clever and sharp, and layers lots of different sounds that combine weirdly well, including what seems to be a flute. But for me the standout song on Kiss Each Other Clean is called ‘Big Burned Hand’. And you can tell why within the first 15 seconds, when the track is kick started by a funky saxophone, which is a constant for all four minutes and is supported with an array of other instruments.
Sometimes the album feels like a jungle of experimental sounds, and with every listen a different species of instrument catches your ear. Iron and Wine continues to do what we know he can, but probably does it with a little less success than the previous album. If you liked The Shepherd’s Dog then Kiss Each Other Clean is definitely worth listening to, but it isn’t quite as good.
From Sam Bond.