Coming from little Old Town of Chapin, in South Carolina, where he was born and raised, Samuel Ervin Beam, a.k.a, Iron & Wine, has already released five full length studio albums and has achieved an immense success for the simplicity he prints into his music. The formula is the more than known in the Folk Genre, marvellously applied in this case by Sam. He his back now in 2017 to release in August his new Album named “Beast Epic” under SubPop Records. Will his Indie Folk be great Again?
After completing his Fine Arts Master in Richmond, Virginia, Sam proceeded with his career towards Film and Cinematography, not only in an independent way but mainly being a teacher of the subject in the University of Miami. And it was while he was doing one of his cinematographic projects that he came across in a General Store a Dietary Supplement called “Beef, Iron & Wine”, and turned Film into Music.
He was writing music since ever and had already a considerable collection known by some of closest friends. It was not until one of them giving him a four-track recorder that he recorded his first song that later he sent to the brother of the frontman of Band Of Horses (at the time complete unknown) that showed it to Yeti Magazine. They used it in a compilation that gather the attention of Poneman, SubPop’s co-owner, that immediately contacted Samuel.
It was back in 2002 that Beam wrote, recorded and produced his first album that went by the name “The Creek Drank The Cradle”, released already by SubPop. This was his most acoustic and lo-fi production as one might understand however the tremendous amount of diversity in the instruments aligned with a talented singer and lyricist, was the formula that started gathering attentions. Two years after, he released “Our Endless Numbered Days” with songs such as “Naked As We Came” and “Cinder and Smoke” that made it to the Charts, and were obvious proofs of his first professional recording with a band, which provided other layers to his music complementing it in the most organic way possible.
Only in September 2007 Beam released his third full-length work, after having produced the EP “In the Reins” with Calexico, that gave their personal touch to songs written several years before by Beam. It was with their vibrant Southwestern Rock combined with their Jazz school that some instruments such as the bass guitar, were for the first time included in a song of Iron & Wine (“Burn That Broken Bed”). His third album named “The Shepherds Dog” counted with the collaboration of several musicians, including members of Calexico, and had a political message of Anger towards Bush Reelection. This was Beam’s most successful album if considering its impact in the future of his career and the Charts. From it came two of his most known songs, “Boy With a Coin” and “Flightless Bird American Mouth”, being the latter the clear political message transmitter and probably one of my personal favourites. This was the first album edited by other than SubPop, in this case Warner Group, and this is relevant since he is now back for his new Album in 2017 to SubPop, where he recorded his most authentic tunes.
After this third work he released two other albums with Warner and 4AD that went in a more Pop direction, including in what was previously the rawest of the Folks softer layers and less intricate lyrics which ended up not getting the recognition all his previous works got, neither by critics nor audience. However it was with great pleasure that I saw Iron & Wine is back, with new music and with SubPop, with his most recent “Call It Dreaming” which has all his old Indie Folk vibes with some reminders of the Pop catchiness. A good combination that promises another amazing new album this year!