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4.2 out of 5 stars
17
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 7 April 2017
Best bloody album innit - every track is just flawless imo. My favourite Iron & Wine album by a long shot.
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on 15 April 2013
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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on 18 May 2013
Be wary of those who you may put ona pedestal.

Always tread carefully with reviews and critics.
Those that come to praise and those who dismiss too easily.

I went into the purchase with my eyes wide open and my doubts niggling away.

I love Iron and Wine, I have bought every album. Been to see him/them play live, even went to Amsterdam.
Unfortunately, this is a disappointing album at best, not a great album as hoped.

It is not the album of the spring nor will it make it into the summer.
Better things are out there.
Save your cash..
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on 12 July 2013
When I first came across this act, I was quite taken with the quirky acoustic noodlings and high harmonies, but thought this sound would need to evolve into something a little meatier. Unfortunately, it still needs to. Nothing has changed, and those harmonies I mentioned are appealing on one song, what I didn't realise was that he was going to do exactly the same on what seems to be every third song or so. Actually, if anything, this album is even blander. He seems to be going for for a late-60s Beach Boys poppy-psychedelia sound, which was ersatz at the time. There are moments when I'm uncomfortably reminded of the likes of Eric Carmen and Richard Marx and other middle of the road warblers. Overall, he's just going in the wrong direction for me. If he has any ambition to stand alongside (or even anywhere slightly behind) the likes of Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Bruce Cockburn, James Taylor etc. he needs to realise that yeah, you should have a recognisable sound, but you need to ring the changes, varying keys and arrangements and to never sit in your comfort zone. Neil Young said something about burning out and rusting. Iron and Wine has to avoid the latter.
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on 1 June 2013
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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on 16 April 2014
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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on 19 December 2013
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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on 30 April 2013
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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on 27 April 2013
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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on 22 April 2013
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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