Calexico and Iron & Wine: Years to Burn (Sub Pop) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Calexico and Iron & Wine

Years to Burn

Sub Pop

Jul 10, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


It was in 2005 that Sam Beamthe man behind Durham, North Carolina-based indie-folkers Iron & Winesat down with Tucson, Arizona's Calexico for a spirited meeting of minds and hearts. Although on paper the two outfits are more similar than they are different, the pairing on the In the Reins EP certainly led both sides to push their own boundaries, resulting in seven gorgeous, textured songs that were as beautiful as they were haunting.

Fourteen years later, they've knocked heads together again, this time producing the eight tracks that comprise Years to Burnan apt title given how long this follow-up has taken. While these songs drift, smoke-like, through the air with a similar quiet, hushed beauty, there's nothing on that quite matches the majesty of that first collaboration's title-track. Ironically, much of that's due to the moving, operatic vocals of mariachi singer Salvador Duran on that song, who's in neither band and doesn't feature on this record at all.

Nevertheless, there are some moments of sublime and almost magic tenderness here. "Father Mountain" is childhood nostalgia brought to life by a dreamy, breezy, melancholy tune, while the title track is an elegiac death march of a tune on which Beam and Calexico's Joey Burns trade vocals as plaintive horns elicit an immense sadness in the background. Closer "In Your Own Time" ups the tempo and the mood slightly, but there's still a sense of being haunted by life's mistakes and missteps within its bones.

It's only "Outside El Paso"an odd, avant-garde instrumental-and the expansive, experimental, three-in-one strands of "The Bitter Suite (Pájaro / Evil Eye /Tennessee Train)" that break the mood of this record. That's not to say they're badand the latter is certainly a fascinating deconstruction of all the music that inspires and is played by these two outfitsbut they feel out of place here. Still, this is a long-overdue collaboration that has plenty to offer to old fans and new alike.(www.ironandwine.com/www.casadecalexico.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10



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