When: Fri., Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m. 2013
I’ve always admired the music Sam Beam makes as Iron and Wine, but I feel like I have to do it from a distance—nothing about the records has pulled me in. I’ve listened to the recent Ghost on Ghost (Nonesuch) more than most Iron and Wine albums, and the repeated spins have increased my respect for the craftsmanship involved without bringing me any closer to the songs. The gorgeous arrangements, by founding Tin Hat keyboardist Rob Burger, enfold many strains of American music, among them gospel, jazz, folk rock, 70s countrypolitan, and soft rock, but though they supply a grandeur lacking in Beam’s wan singing, they don’t make the music feel any less schematic and paint-by-numbers. Neither does Ghost on Ghost get much immediacy from Beam’s lyrics, which seem to describe the two halves of a couple encountering each other in various cities around the U.S. over an extended period. I’m willing to concede that I’m missing something here, because Iron and Wine’s audience only seems to grow—and the band hasn’t remade itself as a slick, saccharine, commercial entity in order to earn that following. Still, I don’t seem to be able to get past admiration to anything like actual fandom. —Peter Margasak Widowspeak opens.