Iron & Wine

Commercial country folk pop from Sam Beam

Kiss Each Other Clean

Sam Beam has changed. If that sounds like a warning, it’s meant as such only for those of you who freak out when your fave artist makes a stylistic swerve. Anyone who fell for the monochrome instrumentation and husky lyrical bleakness of the South Carolina native’s first two albums might be seriously confused when they hear his latest. It’s true that The Shepherd’s Dog saw I&W broaden (and brighten) his palette, but with his fourth LP he’s vaulting deep into the commercial country/folk-pop arena worked by Fleet Foxes and Band Of Horses. Nothing wrong with wanting to reach a wider audience, but it’s odd to hear his hushed, dark tones adopting their sweet ’n’ easy pop tack, while nodding at Fleetwood Mac (‘Me and Lazarus’) and Elton John (‘Glad Man Singing’). And, much as we respect I&W’s right to try on Afropop for size (as on ‘Monkeys Uptown’), we’re not convinced such transformations really suit him.

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