The Best Albums of 2011: #13

Iron & Wine: Kiss Each Other Clean

I get the sense listening to Sam Beam that these days he’s really got it figured out. His first two albums under the “Iron & Wine” moniker, while good, weren’t as fully realized as the music that he’s recorded both previously on 2007’s The Shepherd’s Dog, or here on Kiss Each Other Clean. No doubt, Beam has recorded some of his most diverse, and accessible music to date. Taken together, the two flow effortlessly from one album to the next.  Or put another way, if The Shepherd’s Dog was Beam dipping his toes in the water, Kiss Each Other Clean is a belly splash in the pool.

At first blush, Kiss Each Other Clean often sounds like something you might have heard on AM radio in the 70s, recalling some of Fleetwood Mac’s best work. But if you listen closely, the album isn’t just a rehash of old themes. It’s actually an interesting blend of folk, pop, funk, and jazz layered under a wide palette of unique sounds- squawks, buzzing noises, fuzz, horns…well you name it. It may take you a while to appreciate the genius here (it took me several listens), but it does not disappoint.

Select Cuts: Me and Lazarus, Tree by the River, Godless Brother in Love, Big Burned Hand

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