Iron & Wine/Calexico – In The Reins Review

Iron & Wine

The Inside Pulse:
The funny thing about Iron & Wine is that it’s not even a band in the general sense. Much like Dashboard Confessional, the band is actually the recording moniker of one man. Sam Beam has been putting out beautifully nuanced recordings for several years now and filling them with traces of bluegrass, folk, and country. His most famous recording, however, wasn’t even done by him When The Postal Service (featuring Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie fame) recorded his song “Such Great Heights”, Beam unwittingly found himself the darling of indie-rock savants everywhere, even though he’s about as far from indie rock as you can get.

This time around, Beam is backed by Calexico, a pretty awesome band from sun-drenched Arizona. I’m not sure what I would classify Calexico as, however; part of me thinks they’ve got some tejano mixed with indie rock in them, and the rest of me has no idea how to classify them. They’re awesome, regardless.


  • Iron & Wine records are usually sparse on the production side, with nothing cluttering up the fantastic guitar work and sublime vocal stylings of Beam. This record is a bit different in that there’s more instrumentation, but they managed to STILL keep it from sounding cluttered. Beam’s soft voice work still cuts through like a knife, and the acoustic guitar is used more as a backdrop to keep the beat driving than as a main instrument. With Calexico in there, I guess you don’t really have to worry about not having enough instruments.
  • This is some serious get-down and groove music. It feels like a midnight jam in some backwoods Kentucky grove, drinking moonshine and telling jokes about your family.

    As I was pointing out above, there’s a lot of instrumentation on this record. Really, I just prefer Iron & Wine with a simple acoustic guitar set up, but I’m not saying that this outfit doesn’t work. It’s good, but I’ve always been drawn to the simple nature of Iron And Wine songs.

    Kentucky moonshine mixed with a nice fall day.

    Reason To Buy:
    In The Rein is a must-buy for every fan of folk music. For everyone else, pick it up only if you’re interested in laid back folksy grooves. Definitely not a record for everyone, but those who DO get it will probably love it.

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