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“There's a graduate thesis waiting to happen in exploring the strangely beatific air that surrounds the music of Sam Beam's Iron & Wine.” — Los Angeles Times
Iron and Wine made its Nonesuch Records debut with Ghost on Ghost in the U.S. on April 16. Ghost on Ghost is the fifth release from singer-songwriter Sam Beam, using the pen name Iron and Wine. The album was produced by Beam's longtime associate Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Califone, Fruit Bats) and follows 2011's Kiss Each Other Clean, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard chart to critical acclaim.
Rolling Stone said of Kiss Each Other Clean that "pop music hadn't seen anything like it since the heyday of Cat Stevens," while Pitchfork said it "more closely resembles the lush, gold-toned singer songwriter records of the late 60s and early 70s---Astral Weeks, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."
For Ghost on Ghost, Beam sought to move from what he called the "anxious tension" of his two previous records. "This record felt like a reward to myself after the way I went about making the last few," he says.
Helping achieve Beam's vision was a group of stellar musicians including Rob Burger, Steve Bernstein, Brian Blade, Curtis Fowlkes, Tony Garnier, Marika Hughes, Briggan Kraus, Maxim Moston, Tony Scherr, Doug Wieselman, Kenny Wolleson, and Anja Wood. Burger (Tin Hat Trio) has worked with Beam intermittently through the years and handled arrangements for strings and horns on Ghost on Ghost. For the album's cover, Beam, who is also a visual artist, chose an image from the series "Private Lives" by noted photographer Barbara Crane.
The first three Iron and Wine albums, released on Sub Pop, were The Creek Drank the Cradle (2002), Our Endless Numbered Days (2004), and The Shepherd's Dog (2007).