When Sam Beam, who records as Iron & Wine, released his first album in 2002, his quiet, acoustic folk music seemed to come from another time.
Over the years, he has slowly expanded his sound to encompass electronics, African rhythms and reggae. His newest album, “Kiss Each Other Clean,” takes things even further, adding jazz, R&B and even noisy electric guitar to the mix.
amNewYork spoke with the boldly bearded 36-year-old musician.
What was your vision for this album? I don’t like the idea of doing the same record twice. I want to keep adding things to the menu. This album has more R&B elements, which makes it more danceable and upbeat.
Were you surprised by any of the sounds you and your band created? Some of the jazz stuff was unexpected but welcome. There’s a song called “Run Rabbit Run” that started out like something that would have fit on the album I did with [Mexican-influenced rock band] Calexico, but ended up being sort of a “Radiohead in Africa” thing.
How did the time you spent as a film professor help you as a songwriter? I was always interested in communicating visually. My songs are a continuation of that. I don’t like explaining things or arguing things in my songs. I prefer to write descriptive or suggestive things. If you describe an object, place or person, then put it next to another description, it starts to mean something.
Where does the album title come from? It’s a line in the last song. It’s like a dream — the happy kids kissing each other clean. It’s a heavy record. It talks about God and sex and death and life in general. But at the same time, it’s a danceable, uptempo thing, so I wanted a title that seemed to have both sides of the coin.
If you go
Iron & Wine will be performing at Radio City Music Hall on Saturday at 8 p.m. 1260 Sixth Ave., 212-247-4777, $39.50