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Iron & Wine Lavishly Bring Two ‘Ghost on Ghost’ Songs to Life on ‘Kimmel’

"Grace for Saints and Ramblers" and "The Desert Babbler"

picture-18576-1373300776Marc Hogan // June 25, 2013

Sam Beam’s evolution from a solitary lo-fi whisperer to a full-on bandleader is unmistakable throughout Iron & Wine’s breezily sophisticated, if somewhat hollow fifth album, Ghost on Ghost, but onstage is still where his transformation has been most striking. Iron & Wine gave TV viewers a taste of their expanded palette in a recent stop by Conan, and last night they toted their strings, horns, and backing vocals to Jimmy Kimmel Live! and its outdoor stage. For the broadcast, the group romped through the wordy thickets of “Grace for Saints and Ramblers” (above), while as an online exclusive they dialed things down a notch for “The Desert Babbler” (below), which Beam has compared to Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy, Mercy, Me (the Ecology).” In a nod to Gaye’s classic, there’s a loose, lithe sax solo.