In The Reins
By: Eric Greenwood
Columbia, South Carolina native Sammy Beam's Iron and Wine hooks up with Tucson, Arizona's Calexico to blend Beam's soft, dreamy narrative with the latter band's obsession with Southwestern nuance and Ennio Morricone on In the Reins. The result is gorgeous, lush, and surprisingly optimistic, where it easily could have been a disaster on all counts, as collaborations of this sort have a tendency to fall short of expectations (the soundtrack to Judgement Night anyone?). Beam's wistful vocals glide over top pedal steel guitars, blasts of horns, and bluesy stomps. The gleeful, galloping “A History of Lovers” adds a piano boogie to Beam's unlikely lively cadence. And Calexico doesn't fuck it all up with monotonous mariachi-style indulgence, either.