Singer-songwriter Samuel Beam – Iron and Wine to his fans – bestows us with his fifth studio album Ghost On Ghost. It would seem that, like a decent bottle of merlot, only time could make a great thing even better. Beam shows his continuous musical growth and maturity through his new album. Filled with fantastic guest musicians, lyrical wonders, trombone solos, stunning harmonies, a mixture of genres and delicate melodies, Ghost On Ghost is the perfect blend of the old and new Samuel Beam.
You know those albums that within five seconds of listening to it you know it’s going to be great? Within moments of putting this album on of the first time, I thought, “Alright, cool – this is going to be my type of album.” Caught In The Briars is the opening track and one of my personal favourites. It has a folk and jazz sound, with a fantastic horn solo that will warm your soul. With the inclusion of a horn and string section, big name guests such as Rob Burger, Tony Garnier, Brian Blades and Curtis Fowlkes (to name a few), lyrics that are entangled with imagery and depth, as well as the integration of many genres all at once, it would be hard for it not to sound messy and loose, but in the best possible way. There is “country music going on at the same time as Motown sounds along with progressive rock, it’s all mixed in,” says Beam.
If you’re looking for the exemplary Iron and Wine sound Winter Prayers and Grace for Saints and Ramblers show the most components of Beam’s earlier works. If you want to embrace Beam’s musical journey and listen to something a little different, the standouts would be Lover’s Revolution, which has strong jazz components with some subtle Motown in the mix. New Mexico’s No Breeze has a very ‘cool’ swing sound, that has an understated, almost Beach Boys vibe to it, which, although it may sound bizarre, somehow works. Don’t judge it till you’ve tried it.
In fact, that would be the best way to listen to this album – with an open mind. It pushes the boundaries and dares to try things that most won’t dare. It mixes elements that theoretically shouldn’t go together, but work nonetheless. This is a timeless album that will still sound just as wonderful and unique in five years time. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a cool, laid back and classy night.