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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Retains The Power To Surprise
There is a popular trend among some pretty major players - Cat Power, Joan As Police Woman and, most noticeably, Bon Iver - where it would seem that in recent years you can either go smooth or you can go home. And with Ghost On Ghost, Sam Beam too continues what he started on 2007's The Shepherd's Dog and refined four years later on the easy-listening Kiss Each Other...
Published 19 months ago by Gannon

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rusty Iron, Sour Wine.
Sam Beam's latest, for me, is a rather tepid, safe affair. I've listened to it for a week hoping that it'd grow on me with time but it gets duller with repeated listening. The Shepards Dog and Kiss Each Other Clean are two of my favourite records of recent years, the first utilised incredible songwriting, skillful, expansive arrangements and ethnic instumentation (sitars,...
Published 19 months ago by Mr. D. Harvey


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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Retains The Power To Surprise, 15 April 2013
By 
Gannon (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ghost on Ghost (Audio CD)
There is a popular trend among some pretty major players - Cat Power, Joan As Police Woman and, most noticeably, Bon Iver - where it would seem that in recent years you can either go smooth or you can go home. And with Ghost On Ghost, Sam Beam too continues what he started on 2007's The Shepherd's Dog and refined four years later on the easy-listening Kiss Each Other Clean.

Trad-folk purists may bemoan the hermetic influence of recording in a professional studio, yet today's Iron & Wine set-up retains the power to surprise if not appease these same few. All the same, Beam's beardy beginnings in South Carolina are but a distant memory as he tackles the dark "Lover's Revolution", which simmers around deconstructed jazz before finding its feet, contorting into a deliciously understated groove with midsection passages of free-form skronk.

The hi-fi trickery required for Beam's multi-tracked choir during barely-there lullaby "Joy" has a certain charm too, while the rather fantastic "Low Light Buddy Of Mine" is buoyed by an entire recording budget's worth of supporting musicians to whom we can attribute sax, piano, peculiar percussive effects, smoky bass and harpsichord - much more under scrutiny to be sure.

Showing the other side of the argument with its simple pedal steel and emotive piano, the uncluttered closer then becomes a best-of-both-worlds showcase as Beam rounds out the production with great washes of warm strings. Those desperate for echoes of early material should equally find some solace in the lyrical company of "Singers And The Endless Song", during which Beam whispers as if it were 2002.

What's certain is that Beam treats the studio like a kid with money to burn does a sweet shop. You can hear it via the country-funk and sax flourishes of the opener. And then again thanks to the lounge-levels of smooth in the in the soft-rocking "New Mexico's No Breeze" - a silky track perfect (ironically enough given its title) for star-lit night-drives around Beam's adopted Austin.

Where young money could have ruined a musical magpie like Beam, Ghost On Ghost is a product of gentle evolution and, as such, it comes with experience and patience enough to allow cuts like the skilfully arranged, near-gospel "The Desert Babbler" to shine. While abortive versions of similar experiments probably litter the studio, this striking sad jam will, under candlelight, no doubt be helping seal the deal with sweethearts the length and breadth of the bible belt for months to come. And, if that doesn't demonstrate the subversive power of what intelligent use of the studio can offer, then Beam might as well give up now.

Advised downloads: "Low Light Buddy Of Mine" and "Lover's Revolution".
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rusty Iron, Sour Wine., 27 April 2013
This review is from: Ghost on Ghost (Audio CD)
Sam Beam's latest, for me, is a rather tepid, safe affair. I've listened to it for a week hoping that it'd grow on me with time but it gets duller with repeated listening. The Shepards Dog and Kiss Each Other Clean are two of my favourite records of recent years, the first utilised incredible songwriting, skillful, expansive arrangements and ethnic instumentation (sitars, tablas, harmoniums, etc)to widen Sam's previous acoustic templates. KEOC pushed the boat out even further with synths, horns and modern production techniques. Both refined his use of backing vocals and harmonies.

With Ghost on Ghost's though it sounds as though the proffessor's on auto-pilot. It's a backwards step from KEOC. The experimentation and bold, angular sonic textures which made that record so exciting are almost entirely absent on this LP. The horns are still there but they're deployed in a less funky/avante garde fashion. In fact they're present on most of the songs to a homogenous effect. Brass has been deployed too liberally in his live shows of the last few years, lending the music a middle-of-the-road, Van Morrison-esque, white soul-review feel. Unfortunately this style has now seeped into his studio work.

To be fair though this isn't a bad record. The rythym section in particular are incredible and the pedal steel playing in places is simply beautiful but this is essentially a dinner-party record. For me nothing leaps out, especially the songs themselves, I can't hear anything bold or risky. Ghost on Ghost approaches James Taylor territory in it's sweet and sickly mood, I'd be embarassed to play it in the car with windows wound down... something I'd never expect to have said of an Iron and Wine record.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, 23 May 2014
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This review is from: Ghost on Ghost (Audio CD)
I bought this as a gift for a relative, it arrived promptly and was well packaged. I have no complaints.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant surprise, 16 April 2014
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This review is from: Ghost on Ghost (Audio CD)
Wow this album was a gamble because I have never heard of them before but they are amazing! I'm now buying the rest of their music and can't wait!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant new album, 19 Dec 2013
By 
A. B. M. Hughes "butterfly" (Devon, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ghost on Ghost (Audio CD)
I love Iron & Wine and have all their albums. The style has changed somewhat on this new one but it's great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just brilliant, 20 Jun 2013
This review is from: Ghost on Ghost (Audio CD)
Iron and Wine are so cool. Another totally excellent album. Go and see them live - they will be even better than you expect. Sam's voice is so warm and comforting, yet melancholy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Deerhunter and Iron and Wine, 1 Jun 2013
This review is from: Ghost on Ghost (Audio CD)
I thought Deerhunter Monomania was a real grower but now it just keeps getting better and better with each new play and Iron And Wine Ghost On Ghost was stunning i liked it right away i would say it is a classic .
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUMMERY OLD SKOOL INFLUENCED NEW DIRECTION, 30 April 2013
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This review is from: Ghost on Ghost (Audio CD)
Sam Beam's further explorations in all good things musical continues with a jump back to the early 70s, with possibly a 'radio friendly' and polished album, but that really is a good thing. Hints of Paul Simon, James Taylor et al with elements of soul, jazz and funk along with their alt.country trademark sound, this really is an upbeat, joyous album, that is both colourful and engaging, with particularly impressive brass and strings.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very emotional, 22 April 2013
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This review is from: Ghost on Ghost (Audio CD)
I've been listening to this record everyday for seven days now. It's my favourite along with the second 'Our Endless....". It contains the kind of emotional power of a Beach Boys record circa 1970 and yet sounds different. This record will become a classic but i reckon it will take time to catch on. I see the sun and images of being scared of the sun. Very honest. This record frightens me in places. Very unusual that a record frightens me. Love is scary and knows no bounds. Good Luck!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best since "Endless", 27 April 2013
By 
This review is from: Ghost on Ghost (Audio CD)
Would love to write a track by track analysis but I have neither the time nor inclination.
However this is an excellent record ( to me his best since 'Endless') and having being
lucky enough to catch them live twice in the last four years I'm just waiting to hear
the band play this album - there is so much scope for improvisation live!!
Maybe people who say it's too smooth are hankering back to the lo- fi stuff from
the early noughties but I think they're wrong - ok he has more money for production
but to me this has been money well spent.
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