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Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean - Warner Brothers

Too much is often made of an artist’s jump from an indie to a major label. For fear of tainted artistic vision or imposed guidelines, ‘purists’ hold their collective breath in the weeks (or months) leading up to an albums release. But to be fair, there is a recent track record of success when you think of artists like The Decemberists or Death Cab for Cutie who have arguably made some of the best albums of their careers since making such a move. And with that, Iron and Wine is the latest indie darling to successfully make the transition to a major label with his most confident and expansive album to date, Kiss Each Other Clean.

Certainly, as an admirer, what cultivated such an adoring fan base for Sam Beam was the intimacy and minimalistic approach he took to the studio. And while Kiss Each Other Clean isn’t shy about its broader musical landscape, the delicacy and warmth that we expect still resonates. Songs like “Half Moon” and “Glad Singing Man” reconnect us with what we knew of Sam Beam. But the true excitement of Kiss Each Other Clean lies in what we now know. Take the funky, saxophone infused swagger of “Big Burned Hand." It’s no doubt unexpected, but ultimately undeniable. Same can be said for the sprawling, 7-minute closing number “Your Fake Name Is Good Enough for Me” filled with an unrestrained horn section, fiery electric guitar and an ambitious strong structure.

On the last Iron and Wine release, The Shepherd’s Dog, you could hear the aspiration for a broader sound, but the full spectrum of what could be achieved is realized now on Kiss Each Other Clean. It’s a grander musical vision, and quite honestly one that takes a moment to sink in. However at the center of it all is Sam Beam. His voice, his imaginative lyrics, his vision act as the heart of Iron and Wine and there’s no doubt this is the most confident he’s ever sounded. So for fans, exhale and enjoy this inspired work.

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