|Add Date:||2017-09-08|| ||Pull Date:||2017-11-10|| |
|Week Ending:||24 Sep||17 Sep||10 Sep|
In more ways than one, Sam Beam’s sixth album under the Iron & Wine moniker sounds like a homecoming. After two albums that wandered into more experimental territory, Beast Epic sees Iron & Wine return to Sub Pop and cut a folksy, primarily acoustic affair just like the ones he made his name on. While the jazz and pop influences that colored his recent outings are gone, Beam’s still playing around with some new sounds—particularly strings, which can be heard all over the album, lending some songs a country flair. Still, this is his most stripped-down affair since Our Endless Numbered Days—some songs sound like they could have been long-shelved outtakes—and it features some of his most direct and affecting songwriting since that album. Fans of that album and The Shepherd’s Dog are going to love this one.|
Favorites: 3, 5, 6, 10, 11
1) “Claim Your Ghost” (2:29) – Clearly sung vocals over a strummed acoustic guitar, featuring piano and strings. One of the more country-ish songs on the album.
2) “Thomas County Law” (3:24) – A gentle western waltz that literalizes my “sounds like a homecoming” comment—lyrics seem to be about a return to an old hometown. Instrumentally similar to previous track.
3) “Bitter Truth” (3:03)* – Over fingerpicked guitar, Beam sings defeatedly about a ruined relationship. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him write a song like this. A lyrical standout, especially the chorus.
4) “Song in Stone” (3:21) – An intricate fingerpicked guitar riff winds in and out with a banjo, piano, and violin. A nice song, just...kind of forgettable.
5) “Summer Clouds” (3:34)* – Poetic, evocative lyrics over a slow, quiet composition that puts Beam’s voice front and center. Sounds very much like a classic Iron & Wine song.
6) “Call It Dreaming” (3:52)* – A simple guitar driven-song that becomes a more complex number with the addition of piano and louder drums after the 1:45-mark. It’s a subtle buildup with a very satisfying payoff.
7) “About a Bruise” (3:11) – A slightly choppy guitar riff makes for the backbone of one of the more country-leaning songs on the album. There are a few quirky voiceovers and sound effects that make this song stick out, perhaps like a sore thumb.
8) “Last Night” (2:56) – An odd-sounding song that skips along on plucked strings and what I believe to be a marimba. Simple song with a frequently-repeated chorus.
9) “Right for Sky” (3:59) – A pleasant guitar-driven tune. String intrusions can be heard on this song but they’re more subtle. Doesn’t stand out as much as the last two songs.
10) “The Truest Stars We Know” (2:52)* – Some ambient sounds in the first eight-or-so seconds of the track as the guitar comes into focus. The production sounds sparer and more lo-fi than the other songs on the album, making this a late-album return to the classic Iron & Wine sound.
11) “Our Light Miles” (3:12)* – Slowly strummed guitar with multitracked falsetto vocals. Despite the piano and strings, this song also sounds like a mid-2000s Iron & Wine number.