Iron And Wine & Ben Bridwell – Sing Into My Mouth (2015) [Official Digital Download 24bit/44,1kHz]

Iron And Wine & Ben Bridwell – Sing Into My Mouth (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz  | Time – 44:47 minutes | 508 MB | Genre: Alternative
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Front Cover | ©  Caroline Distribution

Ben Bridwell of Band Of Horses and Iron & Wine collaborate on a covers albums that includes songs originally sung by JJ Cale, El Perro del Mar, Bonnie Raitt, Ronnie Lane, Marshall Tucker Band, Sade, Pete Seeger, Spiritualized, Talking Heads, Them Two, and Unicorn. The album’s title is a lyric from the Talking Heads song “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)”. The album debuted at No. 116 on Billboard 200, and No. 14 on Top Rock Albums.

It turns out that bearded gents Sam Beam of Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses were friends in their hometown of Columbia, South Carolina back before they were ever touring-bill companions or Sub Pop labelmates (mid- to late aughts), and well before they recorded a covers album together. Perhaps a studio collaboration was inevitable or even overdue given their amity, frequent path-crossing, and shared tastes and influences represented small-scale here on the 12-track Sing Into My Mouth. The title is taken from lyrics in the opening track, “This Must Be the Place” by Talking Heads, a sign of the relative diversity to come, which bridges Sade, John Cale, El Perro del Mar, and Peter La Farge. The Talking Heads tune is a toned-down take with acoustic and slide guitars, bass, piano, accordion, and light percussion, representative of an album full of slide guitar-heavy arrangements that fall squarely within folky expectations. Versions most similar to the originals include Ronnie Lane’s “Done This One Before,” ’70s U.K. band Unicorn’s “No Way Out of Here” (better known via David Gilmore’s cover), Spiritualized’s “Straight and Narrow,” and fellow South Carolinians the Marshall Tucker Band’s beautifully spare “Ab’s Song” — all folk-inspired or twang-leaning to begin with, and covered affectionately with Beam and Bridwell trading lead-vocal duty throughout the record. Most altered are the duo’s reworkings of the strings-supported, Brill Building-esque “God Knows (You Gotta Give to Get)” by Sweden’s El Perro del Mar, which is slowed down here and given an earthy woodwind and guitar delivery; Sade’s “Bullet Proof Soul,” which still sounds uniquely Sade despite a rootsy rearrangement; and Them Two’s 1967 soul plea “Am I a Good Man?,” previously covered by Bridwell’s Band of Horses and captured with enthusiasm on Sing Into My Mouth by piano, reed instruments, electric guitars, bass, and percussion. Other songs include Bonnie Raitt’s “Anyday Woman,” John Cale’s “You Know Me More Than I Know,” and J.J. Cale’s “Magnolia.” That kind of variety keeps things interesting, though none of the arrangements comes as a real surprise with the exception of the closer, “Coyote, My Little Brother” (later covered by Pete Seeger but recorded by its songwriter Peter La Farge in 1963), a yodeling, Native American-inspired lament that gets full dream pop treatment with Bridwell on lead. Still, the represented songwriters and the sequencing, which nimbly waltzes through 50 years of song selections beginning with a quirky new wave tune and ending with a howling cautionary ballad, are rendered with grace. Those attracted to the collaboration’s premise will very likely appreciate its results. ~ Marcy Donelson

01 – This Must Be The Place
02 – Done This One Before
03 – Anyday Woman
04 – You Know More Than I Know
05 – Bullet Proof Soul
06 – No Way Out Of Here
07 – God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get)
08 – Straight And Narrow
09 – Magnolia
10 – Am I A Good Man
11 – Ab’s Song
12 – Coyote

Produced by Sam Beam.
Recorded at Echo Mountain Recording, Asheville, NC.