I wrote a few weeks ago about some of the music I’ve been listening to this fall/winter, and I noted that I was only medium-warm on the Calexico/Iron and Wine collaboration In the Reins. The studio album still strikes me as a little too soft in places, maybe too much lush rolling instrumentation and too many whispery Sam Beam vocals. However, the NPR All Songs Considered broadcast of the two bands in concert is wonderful. Each band did a solo set, then Salvador Duran performed a bit of flamenco, and finally everybody got together on stage to perform songs from the album plus a couple of covers.
It’s great. Great. Where the album feels a little reserved, the live performance is vibrant and swingy, with lots of excellent musicianship. The Calexico set shows off a really nice sound as well as a few new songs. And, with the fuller sound behind them, Beam’s singing on a handful of songs becomes (sometimes startlingly) evocative.
The full performances are available in streaming audio or as downloadable mp3s for your portable digital lifestyle. (The mp3 blog So Much Silence has done the hard work of splitting the three sets into individual tracks—nice!)