Iron And Wine & Ben Bridwell: Sing Into My Mouth

singintomymouthNine Likes, one Really Like, and two Mehs. So why does it only get two clowns? That’s what I can’t quite figure out.

Now, it wasn’t always that I liked ten of these 12 tracks. In fact, in the early stages of listening, I didn’t like anything. I still find the presentation of these cover tracks that Iron And Wine’s Sam Beam did in collaboration with Ben Bridwell from Band Of Horses to be monochromatic and, for the most part, boring. So now, even though I can appreciate them, those features must be speaking to me pretty strongly, because once I finish with this I have no desire to fire it up again.

I’m not familiar with any of these songs in their original form. In fact, I’m only familiar with about half of the artists beyond a name recognition status. The range of artists covered is pretty diverse, from Talking Heads to Bonnie Raitt, from John Cale to Sade. And that’s just in the first five tracks.

They’re all presented in an augmented version of Iron and Wine style instrumentation, with guitar doing the bulk of the work and Beam’s voice leading the way, but with a significant amount of keys and drums, along with what I assume is Bridwell singing backup through much of the album. (Though I’m now hearing Bridwell take the lead on at least one song.) It’s also much more country than what Iron And Wine usually does. Slide guitar is prevalent, and the twang on Bonnie Raitt’s “Anyday Woman” is overdone.

In the end, I just think it’s exhausting. There are moments of reprieve on many of the songs, and that’s what garner them their Like ratings. But it’s too much effort to wade through the layers of instrumentation in these languid songs that themselves sometimes seem to only exist by an immense amount of rapidly fading effort. Maybe it’s that the only good time to listen to these songs is on a quiet weekend morning as you’re gradually waking up, getting your coffee, and checking the news, and I don’t have any of those anymore.Maybe the drums and bass are too loud for these laid back songs, which were never meant to support that kind of weight, at least at these tempi.

Yeah, I think that’s it. I think it’s just overproduced and too saturated of a sound for the way the songs are being performed. There we go. Mystery solved. Still unsatisfying, because I think there’s a four-clown promise here, so this kind of just ends up being a big waste of potential, which, as any high school teacher will tell you, is the biggest tragedy.

Really Like: “Magnolia”
“This Must Be The Place,” “Done This One Before,” “You Know More Than I Know,” “Bullet Proof Soul,” “No Way Out Of Here,” “Straight And Narrow'” “Am I A Good Man?,” “Ab’s Song,” “Coyote”
Meh: “Anyday Woman,” “God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get)”
Song Notes: After the jump

  1. This Must Be The Place – Talking Heads. Features the line “sing into my mouth”
  2. Done This One Before – Ronnie Lane. Great handclaps.
  3. Anyday Woman – Bonnie Raitt
  4. You Know More Than I Know – John Cale. I think this must be Bridwell on lead vox here
  5. Bullet Proof Soul – Sade
  6. No Way Out Of Here – David Gilmour
  7. God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get) – El Perro Del Mar
  8. Straight And Narrow – Spiritualized
  9. Magnolia – J.J. Cale. Beautiful
  10. Am I A Good Man? – Them Two
  11. Ab’s Song – Marshall Tucker Band. 80 seconds
  12. Coyote – Peter LaFarge. Very different. Much lusher than anything else on here

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