Iron & Wine

Around the Well (Sub Pop)

Texas Platters

Iron & Wine

Around the Well (Sub Pop)

"I try to write humanistic songs," Sam Beam, the bearded poet behind Iron & Wine, told the Chronicle last year. "In the context of our culture, Abraham and Jesus are our mythology. We don't have the Greek myths. We've got Cain and Abel." No other songwriter has weaved the biblical and personal like Hill Country sage Beam, whose intimate delivery offsets his more cryptic connotations. Providing an alternate history of Iron & Wine, Around the Well taps two CDs' worth of B-sides, rarities, and soundtrack contributions, most notably "The Trapeze Swinger," which traces Beam's trajectory from the lo-fi bedroom folk of his 2002 debut, The Creek Drank the Cradle ("Loud as Hope"), through the full-band, pastoral psychedelia of 2007's The Shepherd's Dog ("Carried Home"). Split between solo and accompanied recordings, Around the Well spills a stark Southern Gothic in "Dearest Foresaken" and "Morning," along with the idyllic romanticism of "Sacred Vision," reiterating what 2003's The Sea & the Rhythm EP already proved: Beam's session scraps can be as strikingly enthralling as his proper releases. The dusty, nostalgic lore of "Hickory" and "Friends They Are Jewels" is steeped in the isolation of Beam's Dripping Springs dwellings, while "Swans and the Swimming" is a detailed portrait of redemptive longing, and "Waitin' for a Superman" reimagines the Flaming Lips' original in the same mold as the Postal Service's euphoric "Such Great Heights." Production tightens disc two as sister Sarah Beam's harmony eases "Communion Cups & Someone's Coat." The dark, ruminative "No Moon" cuts from the same cloth as the more percussive Woman King EP, and "Serpent Charmer" tilts toward the New World enchantment in Beam's most recent work. Consider this Iron & Wine's apocrypha.

****

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Iron & Wine
Texas Platters
Iron & Wine
Ghost on Ghost (Record Review)

Austin Powell, May 17, 2013

ACL Music Fest Saturday Interviews
Iron & Wine
Sam Beam on saxophones and subjectivity

Austin Powell, Sept. 16, 2011

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Austin Powell
Watch This: Balmorhea’s Gorgeous Concert Film, Free for Three Days Only
Watch This: Balmorhea’s Gorgeous Concert Film, Free for Three Days Only
Live in Marfa breathes new life into The Wind

Dec. 1, 2022

SXSW Music Spotlight: Ural Thomas & the Pain
SXSW Music Spotlight: Ural Thomas & the Pain
Portland soul singer gets his second act

March 11, 2022

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Iron & Wine

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle