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Calexico and Iron & Wine

In the Reins – 2005 (Overcoat)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Calexico and Iron & Wine

Iron and Wine is Florida native Sam Bream, whose home recordings found their way to SubPop with two CDs and EPs of new folk sounds gaining him an increasingly bigger audience. Calexico of Arizona is Joey Burns and John Convertino, who have released a bunch of albums covering lots of genres.

Now, the two have collaborated on a seven-song EP, which is more country in instrumentation than vocal delivery. There's a lot of pedal steel and acoustic guitars among the songs, which generally lope along at an easy-going pace. Vocally, the soft, low-key delivery tends of the folk side of the country equation.

The lyrics throughout are not exactly straightforward and could easily be described as loopy. "Prison on Route 41" almost sounds serious until you realize the prison is home to a lot of family members, but there won't be any visits to them because of the protagoniast's lover Virginia, who he will not cross. "A History of Lovers" picks up the pace musically and vocally with horns adding some punch in a dark song about apparently about killing a lover. And death is part of "Dead Man's Will" as well sung from the interesting perspective of a dead man giving away reminders of a past life like a stone, bone, string and ring.

This is a fine joining of the musical minds between Iron and Wine and Calexico in an enjoyable listen that gets stronger and stronger.