Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop - Love Letter for Fire - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop - Love Letter for Fire

by James Weiskittel Rating:6 Release Date:2016-04-15

For longtime fans of Iron & Wine’s (otherwise known as American singer/songwriter Sam Beam) critically acclaimed brand of indie/folk, there has been much to celebrate as of late. Starting with 2013’s appropriately haunting Ghost on Ghost, Beam almost immediately found himself back in the studio and spending much of the past two years working with various artists culminating in a covers album of sorts (with Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses), and now an album of duets with California singer-songwriter (and former tour-mate) Jesca Hoop entitled Love Letter for Fire.

While Hoop’s breathy rasp immediately draws comparisons to a young Stevie Nicks, her vocal interplay with Beam is far more choreographed than anything you might find on an old Fleetwood Mac album.  Throughout the albums thirteen tracks, Hoop and Beam swap lines, harmonize and even engage in a healthy dose of counter melody.  This isn’t your typical ‘duets’ album, as these songs require both of these voices.  

Beam had apparently been squirreling away songs for years, setting aside anything that he felt called for another voice.  And while the record was recorded quickly over the course of some ten days, Love Letter For Fire carries with it a certain air of timelessness.  And setting aside the oh-so-obvious comparisons to the recently defunct Civil Wars, Beam and Hope do an admiral job of keeping the proceedings light, airy, and (dare I say) even fun at times.

The album opens calmly with the intro “Welcome to Feeling” and quickly segues into “One Way to Pray” settling into a laid back groove that pretty much defines the rest of the record..  Leadoff single “Every Songbird Says” perfectly illustrates the clever vocal interplay between Beam and Hoop, while “Valley Clouds” reveals a more upbeat feel with its sparse percussion luring the two songbirds towards a final crescendo.  On the whole the album confidently ebbs and flows, delivering one moody track after another.

With all of that being said, everything that Love Letter For Fire has going for it is also everything that it has working against it, depending on where you come out on the whole ‘indie-folk’ sound, (and more specifically Iron & Wine).  I can’t imagine that anything here will offend Beam’s fanbase, (but conversely there is little that will convert a non-subscriber to this genre). Love Letter For Fire is a folkie’s dream, and at the very least it makes for good background music when you are in need of something chill.

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