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coverpic flag US - North Carolina - Full Moon 233 - 08/29/15

Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell
Sing Into My Mouth
Brown Records + Black Cricket Recording Co. / Caroline

Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me around
I feel numb, born with a weak heart
Guess I must be having fun
The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground, head in the sky
It's okay, I know nothing's wrong, nothing

I got plenty of time
You got light in your eyes
And you're standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money, always for love
Cover up and say goodnight, say goodnight

Home, is where I want to be
But I guess I'm already there
I come home, she lifted up her wings
I guess that this must be the place
I can't tell one from the other
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time before we were born
If someone asks, this is where I'll be, where I'll be

We drift in and out
Sing into my mouth
Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view
I'm just an animal looking for a home
And share the same space for a minute or two
And you love me till my heart stops
Love me till I'm dead

Eyes that light up
Eyes look through you
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head
Ah ooh

("This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)", Speaking in Tongues, Talking Heads, 1983)

Sing Into My Mouth sees Sam Beam (a.k.a. Iron & Wine) team up with Ben Bridwell (of Band of Horses) for a selection of cover songs. Sam and Ben's excellent adventure, or what?

Bridwell and Beam have been friends for a long time, but Sing Into My Mouth is their first ever collaboration album. It's also a joint release by the two gents labels; Beam's Black Cricket Black Cricket Recording Co. and Bridwell's Brown Records. The album see the bearded pair go through some of their favourite songs, or songs that have influenced the two over the years. Sing Into My Mouth holds songs from the folk and country genres, as well as soul-filled (or folk-tinted, or country-toned) pop melodies. Here are songs by artists such as old folk-singer Peter La Farge and Bonnie Raitt, via songwriters like Ronnie Lane, JJ Cale and John Cale, to bands and artist as diverse as Spiritualized, Sade and El Perro del Mar! And, yes, of course Talking Heads - hence the album's title.

Sing Into My Mouth holds a collection of 12 songs. Songs that means (or have meant) a lot to/have influenced and/or inspired either Beam or Bridwell (or both?). This is their homage to some of the songs which have followed or 'lived' with the two men throughout their respective careers, as Iron & Wine or with Band of Horses. Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" opens the album, which mainly is a collection of soft-toned renditions bringing mild vocals and gentle guitars. At times you will find lap-steel fuelled, soothing songs being heart-warm Americana, folk-C&W, or folk-pop. "This Must Be the Place" is not that far away from Talking Heads' original. I think this goes for most songs here, with Ronnie Lane's "Done This One Before" (Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance) as another example. And, "Ab's Song" (originally by The Marshall Tucker Band's self-titled 1973 album). Beam & Bridwell have not twisted and turned the songs into something completely different and new. They are true to the songs. Period. I believe that's their goal as well, this being an homage album. There are a few minor exceptions, of course. Bonnie Raitt's "Any Day Woman" (off Bonnie Raitt, 1971) is slightly quicker performed by Raitt, while John Cale's very fine "You Know Me More Than I Know" (from Fear, 1974) is a tad slower by the voice and hands of Cale. "There's No Way Out of Here" is also quite close to Unicorn's original (from their 1976 album, Too Many Crooks, produced by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour), even though most people know the song better through Gilmour's version (for his 1978 solo album). Or maybe even Monster Magnet's 2004 version (where most people thought they did a Gilmour cover...).

I have never been a BIG fan of Spiritualized. Well, I've liked some of Jason 'Spaceman' Pierce and his comrades space pop, though, but I find Beam & Bridwell's version of "The Straight and Narrow" (from Spiritualized's Let It Come Down, 2001) to be even more annoying than the original. At least, the original had some nerve to it (meaning: it was somewhat slick, but done with style - and pathos). JJ Cale's "Magnolia" (off Naturally, 1972) has some laidback coolness to it which B&B's rendition lack. The odd song out on this platter is a cover of Sade - yes, the smooth pop artist, Sade (an artist I have never liked). B&B's version is 'more likeable' than the original, but I do not see why they took on this tear-stained (tear-drenched...) song. Well, I am being (all) negative here. Well, not all, but I really don't see the reason for Beam and Bridwell to record and release all these, at least some of their favourite songs. Why not enjoy a few beers, perform the songs live and simply have a good time. The best songs on this album are the oldest and newest songs: El Perro del Mar's "God Knows (You Gotta Give to Get)" (from the Swedish act's second, self-titled album, 2006) and Peter La Farge's Indian hymn "Coyote, My Little Brother" (off As Long as the Grass Shall Grow: Peter La Farge Sings of the Indians, 1963 - maybe better known from Pete Seeger's God Bless the Grass, 1966). B&B do something different with El Perro del Mar's (a.k.a. Sarah Assbring) song, while "Coyote" is a tribute to both the Native Americans as well as the 'folkways' folk song tradition of La Farge (as well as his peers, his predecessors and successors). And, finally, yes, another cool track from Sing Into My Mouth is the obscure "Am I a Good Man?" by Them Two (Clarence 'Blowfly' Reid and Willie Clark), originally released as a Deep City Records single in 1967. This song has earlier been performed by Band of Horses - and put out as the B-side of their single "No One's Gonna Love You" (Sub Pop, 2008) off their second album, Cease to Begin. So, here's a few good tracks, a couple of nice renditions, but altogether it is a grey album by the bearded two-some on their private, music nostalgia dream trip.

Bridwell: "Luckily for me, Sam was persistent with the idea of recording some of our favourite tunes that we'd always wanted to cover. This is truly a 'full circle' moment for me...".

Beam: "I've always wanted us to sing together and finally I have that dream realized. Ben and I started our careers together and had been threatening to work with one another for years. When we finally conceived of the covers project and carved out some time, it was nostalgic and fun from top to bottom - the process of picking the songs to cover was really reminiscent of more than 15 years ago when we used to mail each other cassettes and CDs of music we were into - and the end of every recording day found us cutting up with friends the way we used to when we'd cross paths in South Carolina."

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