http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/fb6e01dda3a2d0b91bbc67e593e9e869f8cc2296.jpg Kiss Each Other Clean

Iron and Wine

Kiss Each Other Clean

Warner Bros.
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
January 25, 2011

Click to listen to Iron and Wine’s "Tree By the River"

When Sam Beam stepped into the spotlight on Iron and Wine's 2002 debut, he was a novelty act. That acoustic guitar, that soothingly sweet tenor voice, that flowing mountain-man beard? Pop music hadn't seen anything like it since the heyday of Cat Stevens. But Beam's songs — sincere folk churners full of backwoods beauty and subtle psychedelia — had a weird magic all their own. Since then, indie rock has been overrun by extravagantly bearded, achingly earnest balladeers, but Beam started running away from the pack on 2007's The Shepherd's Dog, which juiced limpid melodies with dashes of Appalachian folk and West African rock.

Gallery: Keep up with rock's hottest photos in Random Notes

Now, on Kiss Each Other Clean, Beam has gone pop — at least the kind of pop you might have heard on a free-form radio station occupied by a band of hippie visionaries in 1971. Beam's lovely voice anchors melodies of crystalline clarity and unshakable catchiness. But the music won't stay still, moving from stormy psychedelic rock ("Rabbit Will Run") to white-guy funk ("Big Burned Hand") to what sounds like a Beach Boys version of a country-western ballad ("Half Moon"). Beam's tunes pull you merrily along, but his songs don't shy from the big issues, tackling war, politics and sex. On "Me and Lazarus," Beam seems to poke fun at his own minor celebrity: "Never made the local news/Guess I had nowhere else to go." Don't believe it: Beam's headed someplace, and it's worth following.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “You Oughta Know”

    Alanis Morissette | 1995

    This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

    More Song Stories entries »