Monday, February 11, 2008
"One more gift to bring..."
I first heard about the amazing collaboration between Iron & Wine and Calexico long before any official word was released about the In the Reins EP. In late 2004, Sam Beam had been spotted hanging around the Tap Room in Hotel Congress, and he was talking a little about recording with Calexico over at Wavelab. I was immediately intrigued and thought the combination had a lot of promise, though the album wouldn't be released for another nine months or so. Beam didn't have any sort of a band to speak of at that point and Calexico is a band full of seasoned musicians who show tremendous versatility in backing various singers.
After the album dropped they all teamed for a tour, also bringing along Salvador Duran, a Mexican singer-songwriter who's since become something of a Tucson institution. I caught the tour at a very packed Rialto Theatre and later found a free NPR recording of a show from Washington D.C. later in the tour.
The day before the Tucson show, Sam Beam, Joey Burns and Salvador dropped into KXCI for an in-studio session that featured a more subdued take on some of In the Reins top tunes. Most interesting was hearing Burns take the lead vocal on "Prison on Route 41," with Beam providing the harmony. The EP started with Beam songs that he'd written with just vocals and guitar. The bands collaborated in the studio for a much fuller sound, and once the songs are stripped back down for a radio performance, there's somehow something more there.
Iron & Wine and Calexico - Prison on Route 41 (live KXCI)
Iron & Wine and Calexico - Dead Man's Will (live KXCI)
Iron & Wine and Calexico - He Lays In The Reins (live KXCI)