Posts Tagged ‘Love Letter for Fire.’

Jesca Hoop and Iron & Wine's Sam Beam

Without even listening to this record,  Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop are perfect complements for each other.

“Neither of us had written a song with anyone else, so we both were like, ‘How do we do this?’” Beam says. “Because our own styles are fixed things, it was kind of like, ‘What’s that going to be like when you put those two together?’”

“It was like walking around a forest in the dark,” adds Hoop. “A nice healthy forest.” “With one leg,” adds Beam.

Both Sam Beam, under his stage name Iron & Wine, and Hoop have found success in the past decade as idiosyncratic solo artists in a region of the musical universe somewhere close to Americana and folk, but often experimenting with rock, country, pop and even electronic music, and always penning interesting, ear-catching lyrics.

“There’s a song of hers called ‘Moon Rock Needle’ that I discovered,” says Beam. “The first line is, ‘There’s food at your house, let’s go to your house.’ After that I was hooked! And I just got enamored with her voice and her songwriting.

“For a while I had this seed of an idea for a project of duets,” he continues. “I like duets. I like the conversation element of it; you can have a monologue song that you’ve written for yourself, have two people sing it and it becomes a very different song. I thought we might sound really great together, so I asked her to come on tour.”

Jesca Hoop accepted, going on tour with Iron & Wine, performing as the opening act. But it was Hoop who made the first move to record music together. “I took a chance and asked him,” she says. “When we started singing together, it was just the most natural thing. It didn’t take much trying to find common ground.”

To join them on that common ground, they enlisted musicians, Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche, multi-instrumentalist Rob Burger (John Zorn, Lucinda Williams), violist Eyvind Kang and former Soul Coughing bassist Sebastian Steinberg. Together these musicians helped to create a nocturnal, lazy river for Beam and Hoop’s vocals to swim around and harmonize in.

“It’s all acoustic, but there are some songs that sound straight-up synthetic in a strange way,” Beam says. “There are some musical flourishes, but it’s more of a melodic, vocal record.”

The finished product, “Love Letter for Fire”, puts Hoop and Beam’s vocals and lyrics front and center for the listener to decipher.

“The recording process was a fluid joy,” says Hoop, “but the writing process was a lot of stumbling around in the dark. But you know when you’re in the dark and your eyes eventually adjust, then you can see? That’s what it was like.”

“It was a lot of emailing back and forth,” says Beam. “We would send poems, trade lines, just do things to get things started, and just have fun. Then we would get together and do tours, and hash things out across the table, because there’s a lot of nuances that don’t get translated over emails.”

On many of the songs, Beam and Hoop seem to be addressing each other as lovers. When asked about the possible discomfort of writing and singing a love song as platonic friends, Hoop quickly replies, “Have you ever been in love? Yes? Then let’s write a song about it right now. I’m sure there’s something you could say about it, because it’s something we can all relate to, and there’s endless material to draw from. From our own experiences, to the experiences of our parents, brothers and sisters, our friends and family.”

“We’ve both written love songs,” adds Beam, “but to have someone else’s experiences and thoughts come into play in your own songwriting. … I’d send her a line, and then she’d send me a line and I’d be like, ‘Oh, I never thought about that.’ I had to adjust. As a writer it’s fun, and when you have a man and woman singing together you automatically have a sexual tension whether you’re talking about love or not.”

“We still have different opinions on what [the songs] mean,” says Hoop. “I mean, every time you sing them, they say something different to you.”

“That’s kind of like a conversation though, isn’t it?” says Beam. “Most of the times you have a conversation with someone and you sort of think you know what they’re trying to say.” “Exactly,” says Hoop.

From the new album released on 15th April 2016 Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop album “Love Letter for Fire”

Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop's new album, Love Letter For Fire, comes out April 15.

It’s been 15 years since Sam Beam released his first collection of whispery, low-definition solo recordings, recorded at home under the name Iron & Wine. Back then, it would have been difficult to imagine how many directions Beam’s music would travel: Iron & Wine’s records have evolved into lavish exercises in horn-laden Technicolor sprawl, while Beam has most recently set aside time for album-length collaborations with Band Of Horses’ Ben Bridwell and now singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop.

Hoop, who’s long deserved more attention, proves an excellent foil for Beam’s lived-in warmth: Her versatile voice is equally suited to lilting harmonies and the more distinct and esoteric lead work she puts into “Chalk It Up To Chi.” That’s one of the 13 songs on Love Letter For Fire, on which the two singers stretch and prod at the boundaries of what they usually do. Take “Welcome To Feeling,” which opens the album with 60 seconds of perfectly packed vocal harmonies and strings: It’s an all-too-brief sketch with a painting’s worth of flourishes.

Love Letter For Fire was, at least in part, inspired by the pair’s desire to make songs that function as conversations rather than soliloquies, and their work backs that up. In the gorgeous “Every Songbird Says,” Hoop and Beam trade bits of the lyric rapidly, occasionally blending their voices as they build to a cooing earworm of a chorus. With the help of producer Tucker Martine and a smart, subtle band, the two achieve a fine balance — of songwriting sensibilities, of time in the spotlight — in the service of songs that feel at once fresh and timeless.

Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) Teams With Jesca Hoop for Duets Album and Tour

Sam Beam aka Iron & Wine, is releasing an album of duets with Jesca Hoop. Love Letter for Fire is out April 15th on Sub Pop Records. They’re also taking the record on tour across North America, starting in May. Above, listen to first single “Every Songbird Says”; scroll down for the dates and Sam Beam’s album cover photo.
The album features contributions from Wilco’s Glenn Kotche (drums, percussion), Robert Burger (keys), Eyvind Kang (violin, viola), Sebastian Steinberg (bass), and Edward Rankin-Parker (cello). Tucker Martine produced, recorded, and mixed the record. Richard Dodd mastered it.
Last week, Beam debuted two new songs  “Kicking the Old Rain” and “Thomas County Law.” Those are from a forthcoming release, not Love Letter for Fire.


Long before the sincerity trends, the legions of bearded lumbersexuals and the tear-stained folk band explosion…there was Sam Beam.  Armed with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and an occasional female accompaniment, Iron & Wine reignited our culture’s reverance for the wayward folk artist.  The project has grown and evolved for well over a decade now and still going strong, but 2016 sees Beam carving a new path with fellow singer/songwriter Jesca Hoop.

Hoop, who has already collaborated with the Iron and Wine project before, adds the perfect amount of harmony and vibrato to Beam’s hushed vocal delivery. First single Every Songbird Says is as easy on the ears as the crackle of a campfire or the wind blowing through trees overhead.  Violins and pianos join the two in a sweeping 3 /12 minutes of chamber pop suitable for any Nick Drake b-side.  If this ain’t an insta-buy, I don’t know what is.

“Every Songbird Says” from the 4/15/16 Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop album Love Letter for Fire , Jesca Hoop and Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) announce a new album of duets – ‘Love Letter For Fire’ out April 15 on Sub Pop Records / Black Cricket Recording Co.
Listen to the first track “Every Songbird Says”