Songs were, of course, paramount to Sam Bream for “Kiss Each Other Clean,” his fourth Iron & Wine album — and first since 2007.
But so were sonics.
Bream says he and producer Brian Deck, “definitely talked about sonics early on” in creating the 10-track album’s approach, which is significantly more rhythmic than its predecessors with R&B grooves, horns, synthesizers and doo wop vocal flavors. “Brian and I were always enamored with the L.A. recordings from the late ’60s and early ’70s, when everything got clean all of a sudden. Then, over the course of it, a lot more R&B stuff came in with more vocal arrangements rather than straight harmonies.
“I hadn’t done horn section stuff or used sax on records, either, and we thought that would be fun. We just approached it pretty intuitively to try to stay open to what may come along. It’s all kind of thrown into a big soup and stirred up.”
Bream drew songs for the album, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, from as far as a decade ago, and a recurring theme of water and rivers — which is reflected in the cover art — unified the package thematically.
“It comes down to that, sometimes,” Bream, 36, explains with a laugh. “I realized a bunch of songs used the river in different ways. It’s a classic metaphor for life, sometimes as a force of destruction, sometimes it’s redemption or rejuvenation. It’s fun to have the same image crop up in different songs and be presented in totally different lights.”
Iron & Wine and the Low Anthem perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Tickets are sold out. Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.
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