Thursday, November 7, 2019

Album Review: Calexico And Iron & Wine - Years To Burn

Calexico and Iron & Wine
Years To Burn
***and 1/2 out of *****

Back in 2005 Calexico and Iron & Wine teamed up for In The Reins, an EP which combined Sam Beam's delicate songs with the atmospheric Southwestern textures of Calexico and still ranks as a fantastic combo of all the artists involved skills.

Now, fourteen years later the players team up again for another batch of songs written by Beam and supported by Calexico (Joey Burns, John Convertino, Scott Colberg, Jacob Valenzuela, Martin Wenk, Sergio Mendoza, Jairo Zavala).

The album is proof that their mix of styles works, and while both on their own can drift into background music, the strongest parts of their collaborations really take flight. Years To Burn starts off with one as "What Heaven's Left" which starts as a showcase for Beams lead and the bands smooth supporting vocals as the love song drips out in soothing fashion, but the group really begin to get loose with some excellent horn work as the bass and drums push things to a climax; an excellent start. The closer also is a strong effort with easy rolling Americana which sounds like Simon and Garfunkel radio ready track. 

The piano ballad gorgeous title track and "Father Mountain" which is a quick slice of folk are both excellent but it is the album centerpiece which is the true standout as the over eight minute combo of "Bitter Suite (P├íjaro/Evil Eye/Tennessee Train) anchor the album and this partnership in someways. Beginning with the soulful Spanish sung "Pajaro" the group begins the journey before the middle section "Evil Eye" blazes with a funky organic bass line as the groove intensifies while layers of sounds vocals and horns are layered throughout. The effort then rolls away with "Tennessee Train" Beam's soft sad journey proving life is bittersweet. 

The album can feel light outside of this middle passage and sometimes the sleepy softness such as on "Midnight Sun" or "Follow The Water" don't strongly connect as some other offerings, but as a whole and a partnership Calexico and Iron and Wine are just fine together and hopefully have many more Years To Burn.
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