Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell - Sing Into My Mouth

by Nathan Fidler Rating:6 Release Date:2015-07-17

Sam Beam and Ben Bridwell have both had success in the Americana folk bracket of music, they both have a penchant for hushed, poetic songs and the can both rock a damn good beard. So what’s not love about them getting together for an album of covers called Sing into My Mouth?

First of all, fans of either of these two men and their music will find something here to enjoy no matter what. The songs are well replicated in the style of the Americana folk bracket we’ve already mentioned, but there are just a few things which prevent this from being any kind of classic collaboration. 

For one thing, Bridwell and Beam have similar (although not indistinguishable) voices. Which might not seem like a bad thing, but you have to fully concentrate on ‘This Must Be the Place’, a Talking Heads cover, to establish who is singing lead. Usually, the point of a duet is show off differing styles, to collaborate in a way which provides texture and conflict (the good kind) between voices. So while this pairing match up great in their backgrounds and styles, it can leave you wanting something more.

The other letdown here is that some of the songs were already of a folk nature to begin with, such as Ronnie Lane’s ‘Done This One Before’ and Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Any Day Woman’, so there is little extra interpretation to be had. Despite them being decent renditions, you wonder if they couldn’t have picked more wayward styles to make their own, something Iron & Wine did with The Postal Service’s electronic ‘Such Great Heights’ to great effect.

These matters aside, there are some solid covers which step outside the folk comfort zone, such as Sade’s R&B track ‘Bulletproof Soul’ and Peter La Farge’s old take on the Native American song ‘Coyote, My Little Brother’. Perhaps if there were more of these oddball covers there might be more intrigue and interest.

Both men are equal in their singing prowess, but it’s perhaps Ben Bridwell who offers most, particularly on a well-mimicked, commanding and caterwauling version of John Cale’s ‘You Know More Than I Know’. The thought you’ll be left with overall is that this is perhaps a pairing you’ll be more excited about seeing live together.

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