Ghost on Ghost by Iron and Wine

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Sam Beam continues to develop a retro sound on his fifth album in 10 years, Ghost on Ghost. On early albums he stayed close to simple, guitar-driven folk sounds, but with 2011’s Kiss Each Other Clean, he filled the music out with keys, horns, and electric guitar. While that album recalls an earlier time period, this latest offering goes further and could easily fit into the 60s and 70s, at times reminiscent of The Beach Boys or Simon and Garfunkel.

Lyrically, Beam continues in the Americana tradition, telling stories of saints and sinners—or rather, as one song is titled, “Grace for Saints and Ramblers.” The songs coalesce around the theme of regret. In “Winter Prayers” he reflects, “Why you'd follow her there? / Milwaukee’s a deaf ear for winter prayers / There’s no night, there’s no day / With only hope in your pocket, and hell to pay.”

Beam has cultivated a balance between keeping with his folk origins and experimenting with other sounds that truly complement his dynamic songwriting. (Nonesuch)

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