Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Iron And Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

Normally, I wouldn’t go out on a limb to inform everybody about an album the very day it is released. I’m just not one of those prematurely drooling blogger guys. I try to power through the hype and play the game of “wait and see” before I’m able to label it listenable or worth telling alla my friends about. This is a big reason why I don’t see movies opening night—9 times out of 10, I’m going home disappointed, with a movie popcorn hangover to boot.

Then again, while The Shepherd’s Dog (by Iron & Wine aka the big-bearded Sammy Beam) had its real live street release date today, the lucky ones scared it up on the interweb months ago. Now, with all the music-listening wisdom I’ve gained in these past few months, I can honestly proclaim this one’s incredibly amazing stuff. I’ll write it here just as soon as I’d tell it to your face. Cross me on this and I will fight you. Maybe.

The more I listen to it, the more I uncover the how rich and layered it is in sound. There are sounds on top of sounds on top of sounds, but it all comes together—the kind of things jazz music gets away with more often than a folk singer does. Fact of the matter is, folk singers aren’t even trying half the things he does (and gets away with). What started out as a man with a whispery voice, a guitar and tape player has morphed into a bigger and better undertaking. Sure, he’s still nice enough to give us stuff to pluck hard at our heartstrings (“Resurrection Fern” has the power to lay you right out), but songs like “The Devil Never Sleeps” expose Sam Beam as an inventor. He’s an inventor of new sounds … or, more to the point, his own. Ever think you’d hear him singing along to a bouncy piano or a chugging bassline or, well, his own vocals on backup? It’s just over two speedy minutes of excited wonder and surprise.

There are other good ones in there, too. “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” pops up in my head at the strangest of times. “Wolves (Song of the Shepherd’s Dog)” is the closest I & W has ever got to a reggae jam—and it’ll likely morph into exactly that in a live setting. And “Carousel,” with its shaky approach, takes me to another land.

I don’t want to get too lost in pretty words or descriptions, because I could. It’s something a crazy music-loving boy such as myself is wont to do. So, to wrap up: Iron & Wine learned a thing or two from playing around with Calexico. That’s readily evident. If this is a new direction, I embrace it. Its creativity plays into my constant search for new sounds. This is different than all he’s done before, but in all the right ways. No wonder he went about releasing this baby so early: he’s just that proud of his new creation.

Buy it HERE.
Listen to "Arms of a Thief" (Shepherd's Dog b-side) HERE.


Cindy said...

Where is the local "cool music" purchasing location in Salt Lake?

Sherpa said...

Now, this is an album I'm excited about.

Dainon. said...

Go to Slowtrain. It's a very cool store. Actually, the only physical location I actually go anymore for music. http://www.slowtrainmusic.com/

upto12 said...

Hey. I took that picture of you and Sammy. "Hail Yeah!"

ewesa said...

I remember that day.

nomadic gnome said...

He just came to DC. And so you know, that song actually did turn into a reggae jam. He sang a version of Upwards Over the Mountain that made me melt into a puddle of love.

matt lohrke said...

i know i'm in the minority here, but i've never quiet 'gotten' iron and wine. i've tried and tried, but i just don't get it.

commence rock throwing now. :)

[i will try again, though]

Dainon. said...

I shall throw no rocks. I will lower my head and sadly shake it side to side, however. Maybe you'll come around. One can hope.