Black sheep nearly following the rest

by Danielle Rijs

The musical genius that is Samuel Beam, better known by his stage and
recording name, Iron & Wine[1], has come a long way with the release
of his third studio album, The Shepherd?s Dog, an advance in style
from his first album, Creek Drank the Cradle.

Beam is typically known, especially in his first album, for flying
solo pounding out emotionally beautiful, personally meaningful and
relatable songs. Beam?s music was raw and pure in its simplest
form, a quality that got fans hooked so tight there was no letting go. Beam
has managed to bring a new genre into the music world with a sound
that is able to sound familiar and brand new simultaneously, a unique
quality that people felt made him special and kept them listening.

In The Shepherd?s Dog, he has started layering his music with more
musical aspects, adding newer instruments and fuller studio-sounding
vocals. He has incorporated more participation from the band, moving
away from sounding like a solo act to a band, something not
experienced in his previous work.

Beam?s introduction of a new sound could pertain to his
collaboration with Calexico[2]. His work that he did with them has
definitely influenced his music, without losing his essence. His
musical progress and the growth of his band is not to say that the
old pure style has been completely lost as can be seen with songs such as
Resurrection Fern and his most recognisable song, recognisable by
even people who have not heard of him, Flightless Bird, American Mouth, made famous by its inclusion on the Twilight soundtrack.

The added studio influence has come under some criticism from some
who have described the shift as losing the personal feel his first
two albums so strongly demonstrated. True fans will however definitely
appreciate the album as Beam?s vocals are as gentle and angelic as
ever with the occasional mix with funkier music with a Sufjan
Stevens-like take on it.

Despite his commercialisation in The Shepherd?s Dog, Sam Beam has
created an album true to his unique style and the pure talent that
made him famous from the start. It is a definite must-listen for all
Iron & Wine fans who love nothing more than classic folk in its most
sincere and beautiful form.

For a full track-list and information on previous albums, click here[3].


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