Sam Beam is growing ever funkier and freakier, transitioning further away from his froth of whispered secrets and lonely strums, while building a foundation of synth clav, sexyphone, neo-soul, highlife percussion and vocal projection. Much of Kiss employs an approach found all over The Shepherd’s Dog, and he can hardly be blamed for continuing the same path. This go ’round, elements of his sonic detour lead to uneven results. For one, his melodic structures become so repetitive as to appear overbearing (“Walking Far From Home”). “Your Fake Name Is Good Enough For Me” overcooks its closing jam, while “Monkeys Uptown” sounds like a spiced-up outtake. Yet in the grand scheme, Beam’s phoned-in efforts require more compositional ingenuity than most alt-folkies can summon on their best day. Cascading harmonies on “Glad Man Singing” cling to you like peanut butter, and you can go ahead and call “Godless Brother in Love” a classic.