Sunday, October 14, 2007

Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

I'd like it to be a little louder but I am too comfortable to get up. This apartment is fantastic when it isn't filled with close friends, at the outset of fall time, when the cool air does the opposite of thawing and has yet to lose its novelty.

'Give me good legs, and a Japanese car', Sam Beam sings on peace beneath the city. I started this album in the middle by accident, but the second act is beautiful. I haven't spent much time in the south, but this is a perfectly romanticized version of it, good enough for me. A string of counties populated by naked people, stray dogs, buried riverside tragedies/casualties, overgrown land, and the ashes of a fire, where newborns are respected, and are just as likely to become elected officials as you are. Where its more acceptable to use the legs god gave you than some foreign made contraption.

That feedback noise running through the song is genius.

Its hard to believe that this is the same guy who once cooed "papa died sunday" at me through a wind tunnel of tape hiss over nothing more than his guitar and fingers. Yet on the other side of the (boy with a) coin its not so hard to believe. Sam Beam's music always sounded like breathing to me. Literally and figuratively, he has always given himself plenty of breathing room, deeper space to fill as he continued a music career that sounds more like a gravel accident than any sort of theologic plot. "The Song of the Shepherd's Dog" is pushed to the point of scratching dub. Literal dub music, with its Talking Heads rhythm, echoing itself back and forth from the upbeat to the down, screwed and chopped honky tonk to reggae to a fadeout that rivals Metallica's "One" for leaving me screaming (whispering) "need more."

They will also tell you that "The Devil Never Sleeps" is "Iron and Wine Rocking Out", they are right, but he could cover "Raining Blood" through a stack of broken Marshall stacks and it would still be anchored by that wonderful plodding rhythm and cool religious gait. So I suppose it depends on your definition of "rocking out".

The production values are higher, and the sound is thicker, which is where I had my first memorable experience with Sam Beam. The track "Trapeze Swinger" sounds like the pilot episode for The Shepherds Dog. Seriously, watch the entire film "In Good Company", just to hear that song come in in the last 30 seconds to validate the last 90 minutes.

So it is, thicker, it is fatter, but its still Iron and Wine. Everything you liked about him is still here, the rhythm, the air, and the thoughtful writing. These ideas are just expanded upon, each taken to their logical next step. I trust Sam Beam. He will never lead me astray, he's a family man, for God's sake.


Joe Tower said...

It is a damn fine album - a welcomed evolution in an already stellar output. Sam Beam is incredible.

Clitoris Rex said...

i agree jose, very much so.

Pebbles said...

Good for people to know.