Sam Beam (beardy man of Iron & Wine) and Jesca Hoop (brilliant diverse librettist / former nanny for Tom Waits) have joined forces to create a fine, distinctly American treat. As warming as a good whiskey at night, ‘Love Letter For Fire’ sounds exactly as you’d imagine it to considering all involved – i.e. a folky’s sweetest dream. Beam and Hoop are both very fine songwriters who probably could make singing their shopping list sound nostalgic and filled with longing. Put them together for an album proper and you know the sparks (or vintage wood chips) are going to fly.
Hoop’s natural peculiarities and flourishes, most keenly seen on ‘Chalk It Up To Chi’, ensure things don’t become too vanilla; her distinctive wonky guitar work recognisable to any fan. Beam, on the other hand, makes solid foundations for these and while his love of classic duets pushed him to the idea of a joint album the final result is more akin to one voice rather than two. There’s definitely no shared karaoke moments here, rather a wistful handheld walk down memory lane.
‘Every Songbird Says’ is romantic perfection, gentle fiddle work, light percussion and the highest of sung notes soundtracking your great, great grandparents wooing of 1887. ‘Kiss Me Quick’ follows suite, producer Tucker Martine using the lightest of touches, allowing the various melodies to weave their magic. 'Sailor To Siren’ is an affecting finish but its chord progression does share much distracting DNA with a certain Ed Sheeran number. There’s not anything on show that quite sets the loins aflame in order to elevate this to greatness, but there’s no real moments of weakness either. This is a very strong album about love, written by two people who aren’t in love.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart
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