Spotlight: Iron & Wine

Midnight, Tambaleo

Spotlight: Iron & Wine

Asked if women have ever thrown underwear on stage, Iron & Wine's Sam Beam laughs.

"Not that I've noticed," he puzzles. "I probably would have seen that."

The question may seem out of place given Iron & Wine's hushed elegance, but Beam's magical sounds do affect people.

"One couple told me they just had sex to my record, like that morning," recounts Beam.

Iron & Wine's soft acoustics, emotional nature, and lyrics-as-poetry can titillate, but with song titles like "Jesus the Mexican Boy" and "The Angry Blade," this ain't screw music.

Iron & Wine's 2002 debut, The Creek Drank the Cradle, earned gobs of justified praise, as did last year's EP The Sea & the Rhythm, both on Sub Pop. Later this month Sub Pop releases Beam's equally fab Our Endless Numbered Days, 12 bittersweet songs with remarkably poised lyrics and stellar vocal harmonies, joined by acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, and piano.

Does Beam tire of all the Nick Drake, Lou Barlow, and Neil Young comparisons?

"I don't get tired of that as much as: 'He has a beard,'" declares Beam. "If I'd known facial hair is such a big marketing tool, I would have done something kooky."

What's the secret to recording Iron & Wine's intimate albums?

"Let me tell you the trick," Beam starts enthusiastically. "Forget everything you know about the physics of sound, get the worst computer, etc. Honestly, I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. I just listen, and see what sounds good."

A friend gave you a Dumpster guitar?

"Yeah, I just recorded with it today," Beam proclaims from his home in Miami, where he also teaches cinematography and script writing.

Memories from last SXSW?

"It's an overwhelming experience. Every bar has music playing," Beam says. "It's gotten to be a family reunion for me, the only time I get to see people I see sparsely throughout the year. It's really great, and I get to play."

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