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CALEXICO/IRON & WINE
IN THE REINS
OVERCOAT

Calexico, a band who grew out of Joey Burns and John Convertino backing Howe Gelb in Giant Sand and into a full-fledged project whoíve been absorbing the varied sounds of the American Southwest for the past decade (from pedal-steel slides to mariachi horn parties), are experts when it comes to backing eccentric singer-songwriters. They have a way of pushing lo-fi savants like Iron & Wineís Sam Beam out of the comfort of their bedroom studios and into full-band situations where they feel at home experimenting with varied arrangements.

Not that Calexico could ever be accused of ironing out anyoneís kinks. If anything, Joey and John have a knack for encouraging eccentricities while framing the results against familiar if often surprising Americana backdrops. Beam, whose talent is for painting sad little pictures of everyday life and filling them with unsettling details and revelations ("I met my wife at a party when I drank too much/My son is married and tells me we donít talk enough"), doesnít spare anything here. Played as a waltz with pedal-steel accompaniment and whispered vocals, "Prison on Route 41" is, as he sings it, "home to my father, first cousin, and son." And thatís just the first line. "Red Dust" is the kind off desert blues Calexico can play in their sleep. And the loose vocal harmonies come together so naturally on the closing lament, "Dead Manís Will," you canít help hoping these forces will collaborate again.

Calexico + Iron and Wine | Avalon, 15 Lansdowne Street, Boston | Dec 7 | 617.228.6000

LISTEN: "History of Lovers" (mp3)

BY MATT ASHARE


Issue Date: December 2 - 8, 2005
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