Sunday, October 7, 2007
The Shepherd's Dog
Iron & Wine are no strangers in the indie scene by now. They have now released three full albums, have been featured in films (i.e. Garden State), commercials (M&M’s), and are known by everyone who’s anyone. When Sam Beam announced he was releasing another album under the Iron & Wine moniker, one could have expected much of the same: lo-fi, sweet, acoustic songs that tug at the heart and are perfect material for a girlfriend’s mixtape. One would have expected wrong.
The Shepherd’s Dog is a sprawling, hi-fi, epic of an album. It is everything you didn’t expect from Iron & Wine, but subtly, everything that makes them wonderful musicians. On the first song, Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car, it opens with the same old Sam Beam charm, the lo-fi guitar, but quickly thereafter delves into hand drums with hand claps, ringing a southern guitar with drops of blues harmonica and sprinkled with piano. Another stand-out of the album is the first single, Boy with a Coin, which also opens with handclaps and hand drums (if you can’t tell, just put handclaps in a song and I’ll think it’s the shit). As always, Beam’s lyrics tell stories of southern legends, of animals, of warm days and warmer nights.
Even if The Shepherd’s Dog doesn’t sound like Iron & Wine’s previous albums, it’s still Sam Beam through and through, and he definitely has not lost any of his touch. If he continues in this direction, he should stay an indie king for a long, long while. I give this album an 8.5.