The recent news that Iron & Wine has moved from its longtime label, Sub Pop, to Warner Bros. should be no cause for alarm. The title of its January 2011-released album, Kiss Each Other Clean, and songwriter Sam Beam's promise of "radio-friendly music" replete with horns and synths is another matter. Only Nick Drake has gained a louder cult following on a quieter aesthetic, and only Sam Beam would build a career on the erotic fever dreams of so many Biblical ladies. Lilith, Jezebel, Rebecca, and the not-so-virgin Mary consume his imagination, drifting across inscrutable mythic landscapes, where his moist whisper and brittle acoustic guitar define the melodies and rhythms. It's a strange formula for success; his future work will have to reckon with that long-labored, compelling signature.
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