Ghost on Ghost - Iron & Wine
Ghost on Ghost Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 24 Ratings

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  • Summary: The fifth release for the singer-songwriter is his first on Nonesuch Records and was produced by Brian Deck.
  • Record Label: Nonesuch
  • Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk
  • More Details and Credits »
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. 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.
  3. Apr 17, 2013
    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.
  4. For the most part, Ghost on Ghost is a good record that disappoints because we know its creator is capable of something more powerful.
  5. Apr 15, 2013
    Uncomplicated, joyful stuff.
  6. Apr 18, 2013
    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.
  7. Apr 1, 2013
    The songs on Ghost On Ghost are not as strong as those from his past. [Mar-Apr 2013, p.92]

See all 35 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 8
  2. Negative: 1 out of 8
  1. Apr 16, 2013
    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. Expand
  2. Apr 26, 2013
    I Love Iron & Wine i've started to listen to their albuns and they are really good I usually don't like Alternative Artist that much but they are great The songs really speak to the heart and they are very sweet and tender sometimes. Collapse
  3. Jun 1, 2013
    It is a strange mix of things I can hear in ‘Ghost on Ghost’ the fifth album from ‘Iron and Wine’ the working moniker of Sam Beam. As soon as the album starts with ‘Caught in the Briars’ I am reminded of the Band of course it is unmistakably Beam but the production and growth in the song writing also throws up Al Green, City & Colour and even Barry White. The songs walk a very fine line between Americana and Pop and some will not get on with the shameless move towards smooth jazz in places. But for me it works, the sheer scale of the vision in each composition that sees a plethora of instruments work together so well that you may not notice some of them on the first few listens making it all the more pleasurable when you finally do. Strings, horns, organ, harmonies and a variety of percussion join the guitars, bass and drums treating the folk to pockets of funk and soul, it’s a big band sound and it suits. This is definitely a summer record, its closest bedfellows this year being Matthew E White’s ‘Big Inner’ and Jim James’ ‘Regions Of Light And Sound Of God’, like both of those ‘Ghost on Ghost’ has lofty ideas and thankfully soars to meet them head on. My advice just buy and fall in love with this amazing record. Expand
  4. Nov 19, 2013
    If the last you've heard from Samuel Beam was 'Flightless Bird/American Mouth' in the twilight soundtrack, Ghost on Ghost will be quite a shock. Beam has consistently reformed and enriched his sound over the years, arriving at a unique fusion of jazzy baritone saxophones, folk-like harmonies, and his almost rambling style of phrasing. This new-found flavor flourished in 'Me and Lazarus' on his 2011 release, Kiss Each Other Clean, and Ghost on Ghost offers 12 more solid tracks in the same vein. While there may only be one or two songs in this album that truly stand on their own, the album as a whole is a safe and substantial addition to Iron and Wine's discography. Expand
  5. Apr 17, 2013
    Definitely the most upbeat work that Sam Beam has done. I would have scored it higher but I think it came so far out of left field that I was taken off-guard. It's almost as if "Iron & Wine" created an offshoot band just to create an overtly poppy version of "Shepherd's Dog". I don't really understand the "Jazz" references that the music critics are saying, it seems like that is just a BS excuse to say "This isn't what we expected from Beam" or this is really different from his other work. Regardless, a good album, but don't expect the lo-fi Iron & Wine of days past. Expand
  6. Apr 16, 2013
    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. Expand
  7. Apr 17, 2013
    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.

See all 8 User Reviews