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Ghost on Ghost Iron and Wine 4AD/Re­mote Con­trol ★★★ ✩

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews -

THE bril­liant stop-mo­tion video for the song Joy from this al­bum was posted ran­domly on Twit­ter with the mes­sage: ‘‘ Let this brighten your day.’’ It cer­tainly did. As ut­terly gor­geous as the video is, with its flower stalks and but­ter­flies su­per­im­posed with the glow­ing, flick­er­ing im­age of a beau­ti­ful woman, it was the mu­sic that spoke loud­est. The ten­der high tenor vo­cal, roughly in Paul McCart­ney’s range, the beau­ti­ful har­monies and the del­i­cate lyric, along with jazz chords and a 1970s lite-rock feel, seemed at once nos­tal­gic and en­tirely new. ‘‘ Deep in­side the heart of this trou­bled man,’’ Joy be­gins, ‘‘ there’s an itty bitty boy tug­ging at your hand.’’ Iron and Wine is the stage name for one-time one-man-band Sa­muel Beam, who re­cently has be­gun to use full bands in the record­ings of his orig­i­nal songs. Ghost on

Ghost is his fifth stu­dio al­bum. It presents quite a can­vas to ex­plore. The ghosts of artists such as Amer­ica and Kenny Log­gins run through the record like wild horses. Though the pro­duc­tion style is cer­tainly in­flu­enced by the records of the 70s, it up­dates it with bet­ter clar­ity, greater vo­cal pres­ence and much more imag­i­na­tive in­stru­men­ta­tion. More than one song is fes­tooned with vi­bra­phone run­ning through it like a vine.

Ghost on Ghost has strong rhythms, such as the jazz shuf­fle of the opener, Caught in the Briar, which also fea­tures a great horn sec­tion and a wicked tempo change near the end. Singers and

the End­less Song is down­right funky, while the very short Sun­down bursts with mul­ti­plied ‘‘ pa pa’’ vo­cal snip­pets, like the Ray Con­niff Singers on acid. The ten­der­ness of Joy is re­vis­ited on Win­ter

Prayers, but this time in pi­ano mode.

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