Pryor Stroud: In “Valley Clouds”, Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop continue their joint sugar-folk passion project with another melodically-unassailable, songwriter-falls-for-songwriter pastoral daydream. It drips with Americana twang and, just like in “Every Songbird Says”, Beam and Hoop’s voices seamlessly coalesce into a simple, breezy, sensually evocative amalgam. Bucolic iconography suffuses the lyric: hillsides, valleys, specks of sunlight, kisses of wind, rivers running wild yet, reassuringly, without interruption. Needless to say, deep, cloud-covered valleys and wide, powerful rivers have already become deeply-embedded symbols in pop music’s mythopoetic imaginary, but the track casts them in a new light: Beam and Hoop are in the same valley that Marvin Gaye traversed in “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, but it’s no longer an obstacle testing the durability of their love, but rather a meeting place, a halfway juncture where they can steal away and waste time. [7/10]
Emmanuel Elone: This is a sweet collaboration, but it could have been so much more. The delicate guitar, though decent, lacked the vitality, flare and personality that’s usually apparent on most Iron & Wine records. Both Bean and Hoop croon in the higher registers, but Hoop is drowned out by Bean’s more captivating voice. They stack their vocals on top of one another as if they are in a competition to outdo one another, and makes me want an alternate version of this song where each singer performs a certain section of the track. This isn’t a bad listen, but it isn’t great either. [6/10]
Chris Ingalls: I like this a lot more than the first single from the upcoming full-length Beam/Hoop collaborative album. There’s more depth, it breathes a bit more. The harmonies soar, the composition is lush and pretty. This kind of collaboration has happened before, with varying degrees of success, but this one clicks. [8/10]
Chad Miller: Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop-Beam and Hoop sound pretty good together, but I’m not as sold on the tune. It’s not bad per se, but the melody and harmonies seem a bit uninspired. Everything just feels like it’s missing an extra punch. [6/10]
Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop‘s album Love Letter for Fire releases April 15th via Sub Pop.