Watching Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam blossom from a minimalistic folk artist into the leader of a lushly orchestrated swirl of jazz and soft rock has been incredible. Beam has come a long way from his lo-fi bedroom recordings and his performance on last night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! proved that with certainty.
With a 12-person band in tow, Iron & Wine breathed new life into two tracks from Ghost on Ghost. With a wide array of strings, horns, and backing vocals, Iron & Wine stood tall as the band displayed their expanded approach to these densely packed songs.
“Grace for Saints and Ramblers”, the track from which Ghost on Ghost draws its namesake, marched along with a stoic intensity. For once Beam’s instrumentation tumbles and unfurls as his lyricism does, as his swiftly spat words ring out the horns cut through the mix, the strings provide a thick bedding and the background vocals fill out the in-betweens.
For an online exclusive, Iron & Wine toned it down for “Desert Babbler”, a slower track that contains equal amounts of rich exploration. A smooth sax solo glides the listener along as back-up vocalists’ wordless melodies blend with the screaming strings and produce a wide palette to soak in.