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, marvelously applied in this case by Sam. He his back now with the release of his new work titled “Beast Epic”. But is it really?
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 work 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.
Now in 2017 Beam brings us one of his rawest materials, emotional wise, where every word he sings can be heartfelt even by the coldest being. Folk is the main character in his story and with it he gets back to the sounds with which he grew not only age wise as well as artistically. In some way I felt this is a warm goodbye of Iron and Wine to his fans and Beam might transform soon in something else, as he has now come back again to his early sonorities and has given probably his best towards the story-telling approach of his music. All this makes sense when “Thomas County Law” videoclip came out. A man that plans his own funeral after after singing an “endless number of days”.
In Conclusion, another great addition to the World of Music by one of their best contributors, Sam Beam. Hopefully my predictions are wrong and this will not be just a beautiful goodbye, however even if it is, could we be more thankful to such a gracious career?
Thank You Sam!