Ghost on Ghost
Under the stage name of Iron & Wine, Southern native Samuel Beam has been recording Americana-tinged folk music for more than a decade. His fifth LP, Ghost on Ghost, stays close to those roots with shades of rock and blues, but this comes in as his most accessible and relaxed album to date.
Through this record, the lyrics evoke Southern Gothic imagery to brilliant effect. The unnamed female protagonist in “Caught in the Briars” is torn between a simple country past and the rough life of a city, while “New Mexico’s No Breeze” chronicles the struggles of a nineteen-year-old to grow into adulthood after leaving behind Santa Fe. There’s a sense throughout most songs of movement, though the locations are sparse and dusty.
However, this doesn’t come across as a dark album, as bleak as the storytelling can sometimes be. “Grace for Saints and Ramblers” has a catchy Southern rock feel, while “Singers and the Endless Song” has a funky beat and horns to summon up some blues rhythm. “Winter Prayers” is a stripped-back, acoustic treasure, while “Lovers’ Revolution” churns and shouts its way to a brassy clash of the most beautiful nature.
Ghost on Ghost is a smart, beautiful record, though it may be too quiet for some. My recommendation is to take this in with headphones, a lazy afternoon, and a little bit of bourbon.