Listeners may say what Sam Beam of Iron & Wine

Listeners may say what Sam Beam of Iron & Wine really needs is for something to fill all the empty spaces in his raw, yearning tracks -- and what Calexico needs is two firm feet to keep its dusty

Listeners may say what Sam Beam of Iron & Wine really needs is for something to fill all the empty spaces in his raw, yearning tracks -- and what Calexico needs is two firm feet to keep its dusty southwestern melodies from blowing too far into the desert. But the 7-song "In the Reins," the two bands' first collaboration, squelches the very things that make each band unique. Beam's writing style still dominates (a word rarely used referring to the hushed songwriter) the tracks, while the percussion and backup from Calexico give his drowsy, pretty songs a lift in tempo and temperament. The title track and "Dead Man's Will" are full-bodied slow numbers while much of the rest of "In the Reins" rarely strays from mid-tempo alt-country territory. The matchup is undeniably agreeable, but the end result is safe, even-keeled and, sadly, somewhat unremarkable.