Album Review: Iron & Wine- Ghost on Ghost

I remember listening to tracks off The Creek Drank the Cradle and The Sea and the Rhythm EP years ago. The scratchy, home-recorded material with his signature finger picking became an Iron and Wine staple. Since his first releases, Samuel Beam has been developing his style, abandoning his one-man band image. For Iron & Wine’s newest album, Ghost on Ghost, Beam requested the help of vast cast of musicians including Rob Burger, Steve Bernstein, Brian Blade, Curtis Fowlkes, Tony Garnier, Marika Hughes, Briggan Kraus, Maxim Moston, Tony Scherr, Doug Wieselman, Kenny Wolleson, and Anja Wood.

The material from Ghost on Ghost is completely different from the Iron & Wine I remember. Beam’s new album is upbeat with a hint of jazz driving the background instruments. Each song has a unique style, showing the effort Iron & Wine is taking to change up their music. Most tracks from Ghost on Ghost were good, if not really good. Beam shows a lot about his musical interests and talents by jumping through a variety of genres. Ranging from jazz to smooth 70’s grooves, Ghost on Ghost travels through a candy store of genres sampling each and every one.

Beginning with “Caught in the Briars”, Beam combines his familiar guitar riffs with the back up band and a section of horns. Pleasant vocals and wind instruments blend together creating a bright, folky sound. The next song, “The Desert Babbler”, changes the mood from lively to serene with a soft jazz framework and falsetto oohh’s. The fourth song on the album “Low Light Buddy of Mine” soothes and relaxes, but is followed by the next track, “Grace for Saints and Ramblers”, a tune with a happy-go-lucky melody and a cheery drum beat. Beam is successful at proving that his music can be diverse, but Ghost on Ghost doesn’t quite fit together. This may stem from the clashing opinions of the newly added members. While you will probably bob-to-the-beat for all 44 minutes of the album, you might be a little disappointed with Ghost on Ghost when you try to piece together that overall feeling that an album should have.

You can check it out for yourself here:





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