Iron & Wine
In The Reins (feat. Calexico)


4.5
superb

Review

by Zaine USER (13 Reviews)
January 15th, 2006 | 7 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist


::Iron & Wine :: In the Reins EP (feat. Calexico)::

In the days of hardcore, screamo, and new-age metal (not to be confused with nu-metal), it's good to know that there is some really great music out there to listen to. Not to jerk anyone's chains, but the music listed above just doesn't seem to be the music that made people grow to love music! If you get what I mean. What I'm talking about is the same kind of music that you remember listening to as a child. The kind of music that you can just sit down, listen to, and enjoy. No intense head banging, no off-the-wall riffage, and no hoarse screaming. Just nice, simple, beautiful music.

A South Carolina man named Sam Beam grew up listening to this kind of music. This man is one hell of a talent. He is a singer-songwriter and his first album, The Creek Drank the Cradle, was produced, performed, and recorded entirely by him at his home studio. But I'm not writing this to tell you how good he as at making records. I'm writing to tell you how incredible he is at writing music.

In the Reins is Iron & Wine's fifth EP in 3 years, and there's another one on the way. Sam created this EP with the help of another band, Calexico to get the right feel and ambience he was looking for. This addition adds a whole new aspect to Iron & Wine that has never been heard before. There is the same indie/fold sound that we all love them for, but there is also a lot of country influence here. But as much as I dislike modern country music, it was still extremely enjoyable to listen to.

The most country influenced song would have to be History of Lovers and it is also one of my favorites on the album. The real country aspect of the song is the intro, with the beat and the banjo a-playin. But when Sam begins so sing, it stops being country and goes right back into folk fused with indie style. His poetic lyrics plus the beautiful voice he is gifted with really makes for a nice musical ride. The track, clocking in at 3:09 may seem short, but it'll leave you satisfied, though you may be craving more. The other main country influenced song, Red Dust Is really much less country and more folk, but it has a nice country vibe to it. The opening lyrics, go real nice with the acoustic intro. The fact that the lyrics are so beautiful and no vocal effects or post production clearing were added shows his ability really well. It speeds up and really turns into a fun folk song that you can just imagine being played at a dance scene in a western movie. The song slows once again to Sam's incredible voice and then fades.

The title track is really my favorite on the album. He Lays in the Reins is a great example of what a slow-paced indie song should sound like. Calexico doing a great job of background guitars and the production of the song. The pacing of the guitars goes great with the way the lyrics are set up. Very great harmonization from Sam to the guitars. About half-way through the song,, there is a nice Spanish verse. I do not know enough about Calexico to know if they are Spanish or if they can speak Spanish, but since they are a part of the album and Iron & Wine has no Spanish history, one would assume that Calexico was responsible for it. Definitely the download recommendation from the album.

The next few middle songs, Prison on Route 41, Sixteen, Maybe Less, and Burn that Broken Bed are truly folk-influenced songs. Sixteen, Maybe Less is a really soft folk song. While all his songs are hushed, this comes closest to being the true ballad. A simple beat all the way through with his poetic lyrics and damn fantastic lyrics. Its also one of the more emotional songs, as he talks about his family breaking up and him and his son growing apart. Whether this is based off fact or simply sad fiction, it features some of the greatest lyrics on the album. Prison on Route 41 has some country feel due to the violin in the intro. Now he pronounces it Raut, not Root so I would appreciate it if you think of the song with proper pronunciation ;) . This is a less impressive song compared to the rest on the album, but still enjoyable of course. Some nice lyrics coming from an acoustic backing. The really nice part is that there is a pretty cool harmonica solo which adds to the enjoyment already had. Again, some more family issues here. I'll let you imagine what's going on because based on the title I don't think I need to explain too much. The third middle track Burn that Broken Bed is a little more upbeat than earlier tracks. It is also the longest. The same beautiful voice plus some really nice harmonization and backing instruments by Calexico There is some really nice horns throughout the song and on that note, there is a fantastic trumpet solo toward the end of the song. Definitely a stand-out track on the album.

However the most stand-out track would be the final track, Dead Man's Will. This is mainly because it is an entirely acoustic with only ambience effects. Calexico doing a real nice job on the ambience effects with the conga drums and very light horns to set the mood. Another really emotional track. The emotion specifically on the lyric Please tell me it's not too late, now that I'm dead and gone really brings out a whole other side to the album, seen only on the title track before. A fantastic way to end the album.

Iron & Wine is really one of the great folk bands out today with plenty of indie influences. This EP, In the Reins is a great example of his music and a great place to start if you are looking to get into someone new and exciting. Calexico's main part in the album was the ambience effects and production of the album. That is why the album features them, but you don't hear too much from them. This album really caught me off guard with its rawness and soft-spoken emotion, plus the great choice of lyrics and indie influenced stylings. And if you still cannot think of who Sam Beam is, he did the Such Great Heights cover on an M&Ms candies commercial.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Zaine
January 25th 2006


199 Comments


anyone got something to say about this? i re-submitted it after the crash and nobody commented.

mx
Moderator
January 25th 2006


733 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is the kind of album that slowly grows on you - I didn't like it at first, but once I got used to the new backing band, I settled in a bit =)
Good review

Dancin' Man
March 13th 2006


719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like your review except for the terribly shallow first paragraph. Great album though.

FA
May 29th 2006


127 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review and an excellent album. I absolutely love Iron & Wine and this album is one of my favorites. I agree with Dancin' Man, the first paragraph is a little subjective.

bleep_bloop
June 8th 2006


37 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i would have to dissagree with you and say that red dust is more influenced by blues than anything else. also, the spanish operatic vocals on he lay in the reins are actually done by salvador duran, a tucson local, who is not part of calexico, although calexico's music is indeed heavily influenced by local musical styles of the tucson area, such as mariachi.This Message Edited On 06.08.06

whatduffhuck7
September 5th 2006


163 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

sam beam is a musical genous. And although i do listen to the music you speak of in the first paragraph, bands like LOG, in flames, soilwork, mastodon... I agree i most likely wont be listening to them for years to come BUT. I/we are still in out younger stages, the concerts of these very bands are the most fun/free times of our lives. the energy in those concerts will not be found in a jim beam concert. nothing against him, I love his music and his beard.

FriendofTheDevil70
June 30th 2007


384 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sam Beam does well with a backing band. I didn't like it at first but it has since gorwn on me. Great review.



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