11 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The debut album from Florida singer/songwriter Sam Beam is comprised of home demos that accentuate the haunted, forlorn vibe of Beam's warm, whispery voice. The occasional slide guitar or banjo aside, these are sparsely adorned acoustic guitar vignettes that wouldn't sound out of place in Simon & Garfunkel's catalog or as contemporaries with the songbooks of James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Joni Mitchell. There are no attempts at punk dissonance, or at recreating the feeling of an old Folkways field recording, as often befalls acoustic performers working in the indie-rock realm. Rich in harmonies and sweet, swaying rhythms ("Bird Stealing Bread"), with strong nods to obvious influences (Nick Drake for "Faded From the Winter"), Creek is one of the finest folk albums of the early 21st century.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The debut album from Florida singer/songwriter Sam Beam is comprised of home demos that accentuate the haunted, forlorn vibe of Beam's warm, whispery voice. The occasional slide guitar or banjo aside, these are sparsely adorned acoustic guitar vignettes that wouldn't sound out of place in Simon & Garfunkel's catalog or as contemporaries with the songbooks of James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Joni Mitchell. There are no attempts at punk dissonance, or at recreating the feeling of an old Folkways field recording, as often befalls acoustic performers working in the indie-rock realm. Rich in harmonies and sweet, swaying rhythms ("Bird Stealing Bread"), with strong nods to obvious influences (Nick Drake for "Faded From the Winter"), Creek is one of the finest folk albums of the early 21st century.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5

162 Ratings

My Favourite Album

Mary Black,

I can't give enough praise for this album. The only music that actually made me cry the first time I listened to it. I will probably listen to this for the rest of my life. When insomnia plagues me, I put this on the lowest volume and I'm asleep within minutes. Promising Light is the most beautifully heartbreaking songs, Upwards Over the Mountain is so simple and moving, Weary Memory about a man finding his ex wife's things around his house is just so damn miserable. And so you don't get too depressed, Lion's Mane defines true love with gorgeous metephore. The wispering vocals, the classic, unadorned guitar and the raw emotion of the lyrics makes this Iron & Wine's best album ever.

Good For Me.

(Max),

I honestly believe this music will make me live longer. Stress melts away when I let Sam Beam's voice and music play. I know this kind of music isn't for everyone...but if it's for you, you'll know right away.

About Iron & Wine

Singer/songwriter Samuel Beam, who rose to prominence with a blend of whispered vocals and softly homespun indie folk, chose the moniker Iron and Wine after coming across a dietary supplement named "Beef Iron & Wine" while working on a film. Raised in South Carolina, Beam received his bachelor's degree in art from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and later his Master of Fine Arts degree from Florida State University Film School. Although Beam would later expand his sound to include electric instruments and rich, lush textures, he was firmly exploring the former style when several of his lo-fi recordings caught the ear of Jonathan Poneman, co-owner of Sub Pop Records. The songs had been recorded in Beam's bedroom without the aid of studio flourishes, but Poneman nevertheless requested that additional material be sent to the label for submission, and Beam responded by sending two CDs in the mail -- both of them full-length albums. Poneman considered releasing them both, but instead slimmed down the set to 12 songs and released it in September 2002 as The Creek Drank the Cradle. The similarly themed The Sea & the Rhythm EP followed in 2003.

It was Beam's 2004 full-length, Our Endless Numbered Days, that signaled his arrival on the indie pop scene. Recorded in Chicago with producer Brian Deck, the album was resolutely hi-fi, but the addition of a full band only illuminated Beam's deft lyricism and intimate vocal delivery, resulting in one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year. Late 2004 found the newly marketable Iron and Wine popping up on television commercials and movie soundtracks (In Good Company, Garden State), culminating in a busy 2005 that saw Beam release two EPs, the lush Woman King and In the Reins, a collaboration with Arizona spaghetti Western aficionados Calexico. The politically charged Shepherd's Dog, Beam and company's most diverse -- and most listenable -- record to date, was released in 2007. A two-disc collection of B-sides, rarities, soundtrack inclusions, and discarded tracks from the Iron and Wine archives called Around the Well arrived in early 2009. Kiss Each Other Clean, Iron and Wine's first collection of new music in nearly three years and one that found Beam further expanding the group's sound, was released in January 2011 by their new label, Warner Bros. After a move to 4AD and Nonesuch, Iron and Wine released the more relaxed and intimate Ghost on Ghost in early 2013. The Brian Deck-produced album featured jazz drummer Brian Blade and bassist Tony Garnier of Bob Dylan's band, among others. Together with Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell, Beam released a covers album titled Sing into My Mouth in 2015. The record featured versions of songs from the likes of Talking Heads, John Cale, and Sade. ~ James Christopher Monger

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