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77. Iron & Wine and Calexico with Salvador Duran – Hey Lays in the Reins

08/10/2009

77

A triumph of unexpected collaboration is what does for this song: Salvador Duran’s guest verse, sung in a most operatic Spanish tenor, feels faintly ridiculous on first listen against Sam Beam’s whispery vocal, but little by little the cameo becomes delicious, until the song feels empty without it. Indeed, as the lyric constantly seems to beg for something more – “one more drink”, “one more kiss” – it feels almost apt to add something so startlingly extra, and once the initial incongruity is overcome, the parallels between the two singers grow clearer – despite the differing styles of folk and flamenco, there’s a common warmth and sense of despair, and there’s a rural, unfettered timbre to both voices. Of course, it’s not all about Duran’s remarkable singing – 20 astonishing seconds doesn’t make a song after all – and Iron & Wine and Calexico’s altogether far more predictable collaboration for the music mixes the same widescreen Americana and cowboy passion as Cormac McCarthy does in writing and the Coen Brothers do on film.

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