After what seems to have been years of waiting for the right time, Ben Bridwell’s dream to collaborate with Sam Beam, aka Iron & Wine, has finally come true. Band of Horses’ lead vocalist and guitarist (Bridwell) joined forces with the indie folk singer-songwriter, a long-time friend also hailing from South Carolina, to give birth to an album of covers.
Sing Into My Mouth sees the two musicians offer their personal rendition of classics and lesser known songs, venturing into genres as diverse as soul, country, new wave and pop amongst others. A surely ambitious project, the experiment is a partial fiasco – the effort on the whole results in a somewhat soporific collection with almost no significant sparks.
The record has a promising start with a heartfelt cover of This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody) by Talking Heads, almost unrecognisable behind the wall of sound created by instruments such as the accordion, the slide guitar and the tambourine. With the addition of both Bridwell and Beam’s tuned, mellow voices, the song gets a complete makeover and enters a new, dreamy dimension – it’s definitely a successful attempt by the two musicians who manage here to leave their mark with an unusual touch.
Coming next is Done This One Before, where the duo ditches the harmonica that characterises the original version in favour of the slide guitar, keeping in tune with the bluegrass style on which they crafted the preceding song and without bringing any substantial innovation. The song’s title seems, in retrospect, like a spooky prophecy. In the cover of Any Day Woman the piano is no longer prominent, but besides the fact that it’s no lady singing anymore, there is really little difference in the way the track sounds.
It is this homogenous feel that condemns the entire album as a bit uninspired. Beam and Bridwell suffocate the songs under a blanket of tired exercises and it’s a pity considering that Sing Into My Mouth is the product of a long awaited partnership. Instead of being revitalised the songs have been anaesthetised and conformed to same musical atmospheres.
No one denies the quality of this material, but it clearly could have used a little more freshness.
‘Sing Into My Mouth’ is out now on Black Cricket Recordings / Brown Records