Review this album
Apr 17, 2013I'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.… Collapse