Iron and Wine: A Glimpse into the Past and the Future



It’s a refreshing insight into a musician’s growth as an artist and human being when you go back and listen to some of their first recordings. We’re blessed to experience Samuel Beam’s, aka Iron and Wine’s, first musings of what was to become a long and fruitful music career with the release of the Iron and Wine Archives Series Volume No. 1; a collection of songs recorded roughly around the same time as his first album The Creek Drank the Cradle, released in 2002.

There is a hum of static that flickers quietly in the corners of the four track cassette recordings like a candle in a cabin at night. A nice touch in lieu of the more produced songs Iron and Wine has released in recent years. The instrumentation is simple, returning to a single man with a guitar. The album immediately starts off with the sound of Beam’s voice, a hushed whisper which sounds like a lullaby for a loved one. Here, the pace of the album is set in sun kissed, slow moving molasses.

The pace of the album shifts a bit by “Two Hungry Blackbirds”. If the previous songs were a lullaby, then this is where a dream begins. The dynamics of the album become a bit more varied, the rhythms become more prominent and songs like “Judgment” really attest to this. The sliding guitars and banjos are peppered through the bridges sparingly making them all the more sweeter when you hear them. It goes to show Beam’s grasp of sound earlier in his career.

The pace of the album becomes a little more deliberate, primarily in terms of rhythms taking the foreground. He does,however, make good use of the simpler rhythms in exchange for more colorful tonal landscapes like in the song “Loretta” and even “Halfway to Richmond” where the vocals are without lyrics and gives off the sense like Beam is quietly urging you along.

The entire album sounds old. Like something worn out after too much use. The irony here is that these songs were never really intended to be heard outside of his family and this release is the first time these songs have been by a larger audience. But we are also given a glimpse into something sacred from a thing seldom heard. A glimpse into the imagination of someone before falling in love with them. Long time fans of Iron and Wine who may have felt alienated by his more recent work should look into this album to remember why they fell in love in the first place. Iron and Wine is also taking part in a documentary called “Dreams and Makers Are My Favorite People” about a group of individuals who made a theater for local musicians and artists to share their craft.


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