Calexico / Iron and Wine In the Reins

Something remarkable had to come out of this exciting collaboration and, sure enough, it has with In the Reins. Calexico meet Sam Beam halfway, providing the songwriter with a tastefully eclectic soundtrack to seven of his moody songs. The EP begins hopefully enough with the reassuring shuffle of "He Lays in the Reins” before settling down for "Prison on Route 41,” which features some haunting steel guitar. Something magical occurs with Beam’s wonderful "A History of Lovers,” which comes off like a less saturated ELO pop song. "Red Dust” is mesmerising, Zeppelin-esque blues and precedes the wonderfully crafted paean "Sixteen, Maybe Less.” As the record closes, it becomes more of a jam, with Calexico lending a jazz groove to Beam’s brooding "Burn that Broken Bed” before gathering around the proverbial campfire for the dark "Dead Man’s Will.” All told, it’s an outstanding union that will satiate in-the-know fans and gain new ones for both groups. (Overcoat)