Tag Archives: Iron and Wine

Iron and Wine: Around the Well

Iron And Wine
Around the Well

Sup Pop
May 19, 2009

“Iron and Wine’s slow-motion magic shines here, and the material ranks with their best. It may be the most hypnotizing hour and a half you spend all month”- Rolling Stone

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Iron and Wine, the principal recording/performing vehicle for current Austin, TX resident Sam Beam has, since 2002, released three full-length albums, a handful of EPs and singles, plus the collaborative In the Reins EP with Calexico. An incredibly prolific songwriter, Sam has built each album from a wealth of recorded material. Many of the songs not found on individual Iron and Wine releases later surfaced in live performance and in various limited-edition compilations.

Up till now, any fan would find it difficult to track down these rarities.Collecting songs ranging from out-of-print to never-before-released, Around the Well spans Iron and Wine’s earliest sessions which yielded the band’s debut (2002’s The Creek Drank the Cradle) through material recorded for 2007’s The Shepherd’s Dog. The double-disc Around the Well collection is broken up into two sections. The first half is an assortment of hushed home recordings, unedited and raw, and the second highlights moments captured in the confines of proper studios with the help of other musicians, friends and engineers.

The album’s title comes from a line in the song “The Trapeze Swinger,” a fan favorite which was written for and included in the movie In Good Company. Three more songs written and recorded for the film finally make their appearance here as well: “Belated Promise Ring,” “God Made the Automobile” and “Homeward, These Shoes.” Around the Well also brings together hard-to-find covers such as The Flaming Lips’ “Waitin’ for a Superman” and New Order’s “Love Vigilantes,” along with one of Iron and Wine’s earliest originals, “Sacred Vision,” which appeared on a compilation for Sound Collector magazine.

In support of Around the Well, this May Iron and Wine will perform ten intimate shows in five cities. Each individual show will be wholly unique, as Iron and Wine will allow fans to create each night’s set list through votes cast at www.ironandwine.com March 6th-30th. In addition, Iron and Wine have begun work on the follow-up to The Shepherd’s Dog and plan to release a new album in spring, 2010.

Iron and Wine: The Shepherd’s Dog

Iron and Wine
The Shepherd’s Dog

Sub Pop
September 25, 2008

“… is Iron & Wine’s most diverse and progressive album yet, a deft transition to a very different sound that explores new territory while preserving the best aspects of Beam’s earlier recordings.”

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The last that we heard form Iron and Wine was the six songs comprising Woman King released in 2005. What distinguished Woman King from its predecessors was the deepening integration of spiraling, dense opuses (“Gray Stables,” “Evening on the Ground (Lilith’s Song)”) with intimate confessionals (“Jezebel,” “My Lady’s House”).On The Shepherd’s Dog this integration is complete. Compositionally, it is Iron and Wine’s most ambitious and accomplished recording to date. It’s also the most satisfying.

While many of us learned of Iron and Wine by way of Sam Beam’s tender and spare rendering of The Postal Service’s Garden State soundtrack, those who dug deeper discovered a classic American tunesmith with a precocious musical signature. Songs like “Lion’s Mane,” “Jesus the Mexican Boy” and “Naked as We Came” are remarkable demonstrations of craft; musically memorable, lyrically evocative and casually atmospheric. “Such Great Heights” on the

In conversations with Sam while mixing The Shepherd’s Dog, he confessed to finding spiritual inspiration in Tom Waits’ pièce de résistance, Swordfishtrombones, an album where said artist upended his previous strategies and forged a new musical language for himself.

While sounding nothing like Waits’ 1983 release, The Shepherd’s Dog succeeds in accomplishing a similar cathartic recasting of the artist’s intentions. The arrangements are kaleidoscopic and rich. “White Tooth Man” rocks with a desperate, menacing intensity while “Boy with a Coin,” the album’s first single, is darkly playful with a handclap hook tumbling under its cascading melody.

The whole album breathes. Its seductive rhythms percolate and undulate, from the Psych-Bhangra-redux of “Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car” to the album’s last dance—a waltz—”Flightless Bird, American Mouth.” And there’s nary a trapkit on the whole album!

“Resurrection Fern,” a staple of Iron and Wine’s live performances, is given a somber, elegant treatment here while my two personal favorites, “Wolves (Song of the Shepherd’s Dog)” and “Carousel,” summon, in their respective ways, a vivid otherworldliness. Taken as a whole, ”The Shepherd’s Dog”: is informed by a sensuality that brings a dreamscape to life.
—Jonathan Poneman, May 2007

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