Crooked Fingers / Iron & Wine / M. WardMeet The Folkers
This week brings new releases from three acclaimed singer/songwriters, led by a new Sub Pop EP, "Woman King," from Iron & Wine. The set finds Iron & Wine mastermind Sam Beam broadening his acoustic-based repertoire to great effect with banjo, electric guitar, piano and violin on such tracks as "Jezebel," "My Lady's House" and the standout "Gray Stables."
Also new this week is the fourth full-length album from Crooked Fingers, led by former Archers Of Loaf frontman Eric Bachmann. "Dignity and Shame" (Merge) features such guests as vocalist Lara Meyerrattken plus former Velocity Girl frontwoman Sarah Shannon, who is credited only with "ghost vocals." Highlights include the melodic gem "Call to Love" and lap-steel inflected "Valerie."
In addition, Merge releases the fourth album from M. Ward, "Transistor Radio." The 16-track set features a blend of originals and covers, including Bach's "The Well-Tempered Clavier" and the Beach Boys' "You Still Believe in Me." My Morning Jacket's Jim James sings and plays guitar on "One Life Away" and "Fuel for Fire," while Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis and Vic Chesnutt sing on "Big Boat." Giant Sand's Howe Gelb and PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish appear on "Four Hours on Washington" and a cover of the Carter Family's "Oh Take Me Back."