Sam Beam's latest outing as Iron and Wine is a curious mixture of the fascinating and the frustrating. It's a more obviously welcoming album than its recent predecessors, with the gentle country-soul ambience of songs like “The Desert Babbler” recalling Lambchop in its tempering of soul influences with pedal steel and strings.
Elsewhere, the easy manner and melodic charm of “New Mexico's No Breeze” brings to mind Jeb Loy Nichols, and there's a touch of Billy Joel about the piano paean “Joy”, while the brisk drums, electric piano and horns transform “Singers and the Endless Song” into a rolling, gospelly invocation. So long as you're not paying close attention, it's a beguiling enough experience.
Download: The Desert Babbler; Singers and the Endless Song; Joy; Caught in the Briars