iron-wine-shepherds-dog.jpgUpon their release, Iron & Wine’s debut, The Creek Drank The Cradle, and its subsequent EP, The Sea & The Rhythm, at first listen, felt like home. Sam Beam’s eclectic, seemingly, backwoods musical vision appealed to me in the same way Will Oldham’s best work has — only with an immediately more inviting (read: sweeter) voice.

In hindsight, Beam’s sophomore LP, 2004’s Our Endless Numbered Days, while quite good, did not register with me in the same visceral way its predecessors had. While the songs themselves navigated the same waters as their forebears, the arrangements and studio production lacked the intimacy of the debut works. Admittedly, in retrospect, this is splitting hairs, as the album holds up very well under most other scrutiny.

This brings us to the 2005 EP, Woman King, Beam’s last work not counting the Calexico collaboration In The Reins (which I quite like). Simply put, I love Woman King — it quickly became one of my favorite EPs of the decade. Released in 2005 it ushered in, what to me sounded like, a new beginning for Iron & Wine…a taste of things to come. Clocking in at just under 24 minutes, the EPs six tracks sounded hungry, almost tribal, which immediately piqued my interest as to what Beam’s next full length would sound like.

Now we know — it’s here; it’s The Shepherd’s Dog — and it’s excellent. Building on the bones of the rhythmic Woman King, Beam extends the mood throughout the course of The Shepherd’s Dog, and in doing so recaptures the originality and intimacy that sparked a thousand copycat acts following his first LP and EP. Hear this album now.

Iron & Wine :: Boy With A Coin
Amazon: Iron & Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog

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The folks over at the music blog Colour Me Impressed just recently turned us on to Iron & Wine’s February 2007 performances at Messiah College, in which Beam performed stripped down versions of material that would later appear, fully-formed, on The Shepherd’s Dog. Fantastic stuff. Three sample tracks below — for the full show, click HERE.

Iron & Wine :: Trapeze Swinger
MP3: Iron & Wine :: Sodom, South Georgia
MP3: Iron & Wine :: Jezebel
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4 Responses to “Iron & Wine :: The Shepherd’s Dog”

  1. fantastic link, sir. thanks.

  2. Thanks for the link. We love your site and are glad to share the I&W goodness

  3. It’s really been a pleasure to watch this guy’s career evolve over the years. He seemed like a one-trick pony at first – albeit a very good trick – but now, it seems like the sky’s the limit. He’ll have a career 20 years from now, and I’m looking forward to hearing all of it.

  4. this version of ‘jezebel’ is amazing. thanks so much for posting it!

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