Earlier this spring, Sam Beam and Ben Bridwell announced what can only be described as an indie folk lover’s wet dream. Beam, of Iron & Wine fame, and Bridwell, of Band of Horses, teamed up to release an album, Sing Into My Mouth. But this isn’t just any album; it’s a cover album. A cover album so good that you probably wouldn’t have realized it was a cover album if you hadn’t read this.
Beam and Bridwell tackle a vast array of songs and genres, flowing seamlessly from Sade’s “Bulletproof Soul” to The Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” to Pete Seeger’s “Coyote, My Little Brother.” They’re both masters of transforming a song into their own creation while still paying reverence to the original’s greatness. This shouldn’t come as a surprise though since Sam Beam has been doing this for years with Iron & Wine. Any die-hard Iron & Wine fan or casual “indie” fan that happens to own the Garden State Soundtrack has witnessed his cover song prowess. Due to Beam’s mastery, many forget that “Such Great Heights” is originally an upbeat, techno-pop Postal Service song, and not a breathy, acoustic heart-wrencher (trust me, I mean this as the ultimate compliment).
But what makes this album even more appealing is the backstory. A story that I, a fan of both bands since the early 2000s, am ashamed to admit not knowing. Ben Bridwell and Sam Beam are childhood friends, having grown up together in Columbia, SC. Beam was best friends with Bridwell’s older brother, and through the years both musicians traded mixtapes and eventually helped one another as their music careers were starting up.
So before you scoff at the idea of a cover album, give this album a listen. It is rare for two giants of any given genre to team up and create something so beautiful and complete that truly showcases their respective talents and traits without overshadowing or trying to outdo one another. Think of this as the indie-folk version of Watch the Throne, I promise they will not disappoint.
By: Robert Henry, Music Contributor