Calexico & Iron and wine - In the reins
Ep or mini album. Where is the dividing line. This delightful disc has all of 7 songs. Its a collaboration between two of the brightest lights of alternative country today, Calexico and Iron & Wine. As an added bonux there is an appearance by Salvador Duran, a Mexican tenor on the title track. Nick Luca also plays on the record. Another name for me to investigate.
Calexico are well known for their western cowboy style of country, somewhere along the Mexican border. Joey Burns supplies most of the singing here and typically sings lyrics like the following, 'One more drink tonight, let your gray stallion rest'. This appears in the gorgeous saddle weary 'He lays in the reins' cinematically building that vast western almost desert landscape for their horeseriding music. The songs is truly elevated to essential status by the appearance of the aforementioned Salvador Duran. With a name like that, surely, you can't go wrong.
'Prison on route' is a softly sung love song which mentiones that most of the singer's relatives are in prison. It passes time until we come to the magnificent 'History of lovers'. This is very typical of Calexico and is simply drenched in horns and brass and a soft falsetto by Burns. The lyric deals with a used women and a love triangle. This song and the title song are what makes this album essential. Side one ends here.
Admittedly, i rarely turn over for side two, but I should. It kicks off with a sparse intro to 'Red Dust' which then goes honky tonk blues. Although well played its a bit repetitive for my liking.
'Sixteen,maybe less' is an incredibly softly sung ode to young love. Its very touching and has beautiful slide guitar, lovely chorus and evokes a memory we all hold in our minds.
With its more prominent use of bass and sax, 'burn that broken bed' introduces a different mood to the record. While it may still be a love song of sorts, this one isn't all happy memories. It is good though.
We finish off on song number 7, 'Dead man's will'. Rather appropriate don't you think? A man who regrests not showing his love more. He has little to give, but mostly want to give his love now he's dead. Is it too late? Sounding completely like a ramshackle demo sung around the campfire, it nevertheless includes lovely harmonies. This collaboration can do no wrong.
If you like your music full of wistful lyrics, harmonious singing and slide guitar this would be an excellent purchase.
Packaging is minimal. Outer sleeve has lyrics printed on it though which is welcome. Standard inner paper sleeve. Sound is not bad but has that digital sheen while I have no problems with the pressing.