Filtering old-fashioned, song-based folk rock through an indie rock lens, Iron and Wine has in the last half decade become one of the most acclaimed and beloved outfits in contemporary music. It is Austin-based songwriter Sam Beam’s “delicate delivery of durable tunes” (Rolling Stone) that creates music that is “subtle, surprising and utterly absorbing” (Q Magazine).
Iron and Wine began releasing music in 2002 and each subsequent CD has earned even more critical praise than the last. The band’s debut, The Creek Drank the Cradle, was called “fresh and invigorating” by Paste. Of 2004’s Our Endless Numbered Days, Pitchfork wrote “Beam’s freshly veiled lyrics have simply pushed Iron and Wine toward more subversive levels of storytelling.” Billboard wrote 2005’s Woman King EP “hints at a more complex approach to songwriting without abandoning the qualities that made us pay attention in the first place.”
Iron and Wine’s 2007 release The Shepherd’s Dog is being hailed as Beam’s most ambitious, accomplished and satisfying recording to date. Rolling Stone gave The Shepherd’s Dog three and a half stars and wrote Beam “brings the blood, instrumental colors and quirky but fluid arrangements that make explicit the worry and wounds running red in his Southern-gothic stories and dead-love letters.”
Beam said his inspiration for the cathartic songwriting on The Shepherd’s Dog came in part from Tom Waits’ Swordfishtrombones, an album where Waits forged a new musical language for himself. While sounding nothing like Waits’ 1983 release, The Shepherd’s Dog succeeds in accomplishing a similar recasting of the artist’s musical intentions. “I just try to use my own life to build a human song: something that people can relate to in some way,” Beam said.