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Long-time musical friends and collaborators, Calexico and Iron & Wine returned to the studio last winter 13 years after their previous release. Resultant album Years To Burn is born of a restless desire to reinvent. Gary Walker meets two of its creators, Joey Burns and Sam Beam

The musical pathways of Calexico and Iron & Wine first converged back in 2005 when Joey Burns, John Convertino and Sam Beam joined forces to make the In the Reins EP. hese friends, drawn together by music, reconvened nearly a decade and a half later determined not to retrace their steps, intent on travelling somewhere new.

While that first seven-song collaboration, foregrounding Sam Beam’s cinematic songwriting, fused his rich Carolina heritage with Calexico’s evocative cross-border sounds of the old South West, on new album Years To Burn nobody was interested in standing still. A fresh spirit of spontaneous experimentation ruled when the members gathered at Nashville’s Sound Emporium Studio.

Calexico founder Joey Burns, on an early morning call from his Tucson, Arizona home, explains: “On some of the more experimental tracks on this album, like Outside El Paso, we’re trying to bring our worlds together. You don’t know where you are – Interstate 10, you could be outside El Paso, you could be on your way south, or cutting up on 40 to get to Georgia, on your way to North Carolina… I feel like there’s more of a coming together on these songs. I love how it feels like this is coming from a place that relects more who we are and the experiences we’ve shared.

“One of the things that happens after you’ve had a successful one-time collaboration is when you follow up there’s a high expectation from everyone, including the artists involved. What you have to remind yourself is to completely let go, and Sam is really good at that.”

Still waking up on a spring morning in North Carolina, Beam aka Iron & Wine, adds: I feel like Calexico have a musical approach specific to where they’re from, and both of us are a product of growing up at a time when you have access to everything. We’re products of our generation, where those regional sources are important, but so is everything else we’re affected by, it’s all one big soup. Joey and John and I like to play with those elements – hyper-local sounds as well as

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Long Live Vinyl - Jul 2019 - David Bowie
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