Iron & Wine, ‘Archive Series Volume No. 1’ - Weekend

Iron & Wine, ‘Archive Series Volume No. 1’

THE songs from Iron & Wine’s first album, “The Creek Drank the Cradle,” were cherry-picked from material Sam Beam had been recording at home for years before catching the attention of Sup Pop Records in 2002.

MAIN-Music-Review-Iron-&-WineHis first unreleased collection from that period, “Archive Series Volume No. 1,” acts as a companion piece to the debut. There is a banjo here, a flicker of female voice there, but this is mostly acoustic guitar with half the lyrics delivered just above a whisper.

The stunning “Eden” returns to the biblical imagery ingrained in some of his best work. At one point, Beam depicts heaven as “a distance not a place” and an indifference to destination and time recur throughout.

There’s a lost watch; a calendar has fallen off the wall; and on “Beyond the Fence,” he sings: “This clock’s beautiful but can’t keep time.” The meditative pace frames inanimate details and lends these songs a timeless quality.

The constant is a clear Southern gothic character. There is mention of a sunburnt nose, ears of corn and a sheet blowing on a line. These are lived in songs about slow rivers, freckled girls and the shade of a dogwood tree. Personal songs — that in the hands of Beam — are relatable. (AP)

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