Ghost on Ghost - Iron & Wine
Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. Ghost on Ghost is as dense stylistically as it is lyrically.
  2. 90
    That the new stuff doesn’t make you pine for the comforting certainties of early solo classics à la ‘Naked as We Came’ at all is a sign of just what a successful evolution Ghost on Ghost is.
  3. Apr 1, 2013
    90
    Professor Beam has made his first art movie, and it's a stunner. [May 2013, p.70]
  4. Apr 16, 2013
    85
    With 12 great new songs, each with its own spirit, style and direction, Ghost On Ghost is the best album in Iron & Wine’s already impressive discography.
  5. 83
    Beam along with producer Brian Deck and a host of musicians including members from Dylan’s band, The Tin Hat Trio and Antony and Johnsons, Iron and Wine continues this evolution by crafting a lush album of AM radio pop—complete with funk and jazz grooves.
  6. Apr 16, 2013
    83
    Most of Ghost On Ghost treads territory similar to Kiss Each Other Clean, just with a bit more loose-limbed joy replacing that album’s austere moments.
  7. Jun 4, 2013
    80
    Ghost On Ghost completes Iron & Wine’s transformation from simple soul-searching singer-songwriter into fully-fledged bandleader. Beam firmly remains a master at both.
  8. Apr 18, 2013
    80
    Ghost On Ghost might not be definitive--Beam gives off the impression that a genuine modern classic is not yet beyond him, something a tightening of focus might help him achieve--but this is big, beautiful music all the same. That he makes it sound so effortless is all the more impressive.
  9. Apr 17, 2013
    80
    Marrying Beam’s continued interest in keeping the beat moving with some of the strongest folk/pop melodies he’s yet composed, Ghost on Ghost evolves Iron & Wine music even further into the realm of the mystic.
  10. Apr 15, 2013
    80
    Bringing the scale back down to something human while injecting some jazz and sunshine into the I&W sound proves to be a very good strategy for Beam, and it makes Ghost on Ghost one of the most satisfying albums the group has done to date.
  11. Apr 15, 2013
    80
    Suave in its mastery of its chosen style, it still teems with ideas and smuggles in lyrical barbs among the sumptuous melodies.
  12. 80
    So long as you're not paying close attention, it's a beguiling enough experience.
  13. Apr 11, 2013
    80
    Long-time fans may miss the old eerie melancholia, but it's hard to quibble with Beam's most assured set of tunes to date.
  14. Apr 9, 2013
    80
    Sam Beam has made a commercial record by the simple expedient of making a beautiful one. [May 2013, p.84]
  15. Apr 9, 2013
    80
    Bolstered by members of Dylan's band, the songs are built on buoyant '60s pop and Beach Boys harmonies soar alongside lively brass. [May 2013, p.103]
  16. 80
    It has a silky-smooth sheen about it, but there’s an earthy, analog vibe that keeps its songs grounded, and more importantly, makes them sound absolutely sublime, no matter how ornate or ethereal.
  17. May 16, 2013
    78
    His fifth LP ties it all together with ethereal jazz-soul in summer colors, bolstered by the nimble swing provided by members of Bob Dylan's band and New Orleans horns orchestrated again by Tin Hat Trio's Rob Burger.
  18. For the most part, Ghost on Ghost is a good record that disappoints because we know its creator is capable of something more powerful.
  19. Apr 18, 2013
    70
    Given how routine and mechanical this genre [coffeehouse-style soft rock] has become the past few years, it's remarkable to hear Beam, a songwriter of more rustic, folksy origins, make it wholly his own.
  20. Apr 16, 2013
    70
    The overall effect can still be a little drowsy, but the best tunes here are the kind of dreams that will stay on your mind long after waking.
  21. 70
    Sam Beam's fifth album sees him taking further, grander steps in the shiny loafers of a cheesy 1970s crooner with a fondness for symphonic folk and a soul groove.
  22. Apr 15, 2013
    70
    Uncomplicated, joyful stuff.
  23. Apr 12, 2013
    70
    Whilst arguably Beam's most consistent album for some years, there are fewer moments of raw beauty here than on past excursions, resulting in a whole that is somehow less than its impressive component parts.
  24. Apr 11, 2013
    70
    Ghost On Ghost is a relaxed, unburdened work that should please most fans and generally be viewed positively elsewhere.
  25. 70
    It's a solid album in an impressive and varied discography. [May 2013, p.90]
  26. Apr 18, 2013
    68
    Sam Beam’s wily flirtations with girl-group chants and country-politan pageantry entices in fits and starts. Unfortunately, Ghost on Ghost’s midsection suffers from some genre weariness and similitude.
  27. Apr 19, 2013
    61
    Too often it sounds as though Beam is less interested in defining a new sound and more concerned with distancing himself from an old one.
  28. Apr 24, 2013
    60
    It’s the sound of an artist trying to go on the rebound. That he partially succeeds may be cause for a quiet, at the very least, celebration, just like the sound of the album itself.
  29. Apr 22, 2013
    60
    After so much rapid reinvention, he’s found himself stalled in the middle of a transformation. In his constant quest to learn new tricks, he’s only ended up chasing his tail.
  30. 60
    As puzzle pieces to a full-length album, at least a third of these songs come off as superfluous and unnecessary.
  31. Apr 16, 2013
    60
    While Ghost on Ghost is outstanding in places, it's too uneven to hold up to Beam's best work.
  32. Apr 11, 2013
    60
    A pleasant, occasionally saccharine listen.
  33. May 8, 2013
    58
    It may be palatable and generally inoffensive on a whole, but Ghost on Ghost really goes down best when viewed as a supplement to other better, more transcendent material already out there.
  34. Apr 29, 2013
    50
    The arrangements are bold but often misplaced, cluttering and distracting from the songs instead of illuminating them; the characters get lost in their costumes.
  35. Apr 1, 2013
    50
    The songs on Ghost On Ghost are not as strong as those from his past. [Mar-Apr 2013, p.92]
User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 23 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 8
  2. Negative: 1 out of 8
  1. Apr 17, 2013
    3
    I've always felt that Sam Beam's songwriting lent itself very well to a pared-down, simplistic style. The vivid cinematic images that his songs evoke just seem to come across best with a solid contrast between them and a simple medium at least, that's something I've always enjoyed from Iron & Wine.
    I wasn't too sure about "The Shepherd's Dog", but it grew on me after a few listens, at least partially because I'd previously listened to Calexico (who became his backing band prior to the production of that album). It took a lot longer still for "Kiss Each Other Clean" to grow on me, but with the exception of a couple of tracks it did just that. I felt that using such a large amount of instrumentation and backing was overwhelming, distracting, and unnecessary, but I found that I didn't hate either of those albums and that, though there were more songs I didn't care for on these, I didn't really actively dislike any of them.
    "Ghost on Ghost" is the first Iron & Wine album I actively hate, and I am very, very sad to say that. I have been a long time fan. His music got me through some really dark times and has accompanied me through some unbelievably good times that have followed them. But this album is very overproduced, very poppy, and incredibly sappy. If his former albums evoked William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy, this one evokes Nicholas Sparks. (And I appreciate the former two authors for the same reasons I appreciated Iron & Wine a vivid beauty from a stark, honest simplicity.)
    "Ghost on Ghost" is one of the most overproduced, overcomplicated, cheesy albums I have had the displeasure of forcing myself to sit all the way through more than once. Each time I hoped it would grow on me. Each time I was bitterly disappointed. It is just too much of a change of tone in a direction I do not appreciate.
    Music is something that touches each person differently, and it's an incredibly subjective thing to write about and rate. Because of this I almost feel guilty writing such a negative review of someone I've enjoyed so much in that past. And there may be people who enjoy this album. From a technical perspective, it might not be awful. But if you enjoyed Iron & Wine for any reason similar to why I did, I think it is highly unlikely that you will enjoy this album. I am very sorry to say that, as long as this artistic direction continues, R.I.P. Iron & Wine. I'll always enjoy your older music.
    Full Review »
  2. Apr 16, 2013
    9
    This isn't particularly mind-blowing, at least not compared to Beam's best efforts. Still, that's an especially high bar to reach, and this does a fair job. It's a fun, folk-splosion that takes Beam in a poppier direction, but is no less nuanced or lacking in sincerity. Full Review »
  3. Apr 16, 2013
    5
    If you mixed all the lame songs Dylan made in the 80's with smooth jazz, you'd get this cheesy music. Take that comment with a grain of salt, as I've been a huge fan of Beam's since "The Creek Drank the Cradle," and the direction the band has taken in the last two albums is very different from those earlier, lo-fi, melancholic albums. I'm not against artists reinventing their sound, for instance I think Chan Marshall did a fantastic job of it last year, but I can't get behind this. The production is top notch, but it really is cheesy. Full Review »