Iron and Wine’s “Our Endless Numbered Days” was recently named NME’s LP of the WEEK!!! Just ‘cause the British are up north doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate what’s down south, if you know what I’m sayin’. CONGRATS, SAM BEAM!! Here’s what they have to say:
KING OF THE HILLBILLIES
IRON AND WINE/OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS
Miami’s one and only king of poetic, backwoods blues makes the heartbreaking album of the week
Sam Beam—he is both Iron AND Wine—is unusual, to say the least. Born and raised in the Latino-heavy sunshine state of Florida, he has somehow resisted the temptation to bang out potty-mouthed, super-heavy Miami bass and is, instead, the whispering ghost of a stripped-down, backwoods country blues he’s probably no more closely related to than you or me.
Iron & Wine’s debut, THE CREEK DRANK THE CRADLE, was unencumbered by anything more complicated than Beam’s voice, his broodily thrummed acoustic guitar and a few curling sheaves of banjo. Much of it sounded like a roughly-hewn museum piece that could easily have been recorded 70 years ago. In Iron & Wine World, the sun was always just about to drop behind the mountain across the valley, the first beer of the day still had tiny chunks of ice floating in it and the only sound audible above the crickets was Beam’s guitar and voice floating like hickory smoke on the warm evening breeze.
But that was then. This time around, Beam is less like some dungaree-wearing, O Brother, Where Art Thou? throwback, and more like the natural—and frankly, wonderful—successor to the Elliott Smith and Nick Drake school of perfectly beautiful songwriting. Though the flashes of banjo and porch-friendly harmonies remain, there’s now room for occasional drums, a little bass, other voices that whisper their support. You can hear it in the soft hum that envelopes “Cinder and Smoke”, in the powerfully stark “Fever Dream”, and in his sister Sara’s frozen sigh of a voice as she lifts the lover’s lament “Naked As We Came” from its gentle bass into a place of almost unearthly tenderness. You can only hope Beam’s future is a little brighter than that of his predecessors.
Iron & Wine World isn’t an easy place—death and sorrow are never far from the surface—but Beam knows that there’s nothing more healing or more uplifting than giving vent to your dreams and fears and letting them all glide away on a breath of wind. Real or imagined.