Iron And Wine is the stage name for Sam Beam, an American singer/writer who sported a big bushy beard before it became a thing again. I somehow came across him shortly after he released his debut album, “The creek drank the cradle”, in 2002, though I don’t think I became a huge fan until I heard his collaboration with Calexico a few years later: 2005’s “In the reins” EP. I found it interesting, then, when I recently learned that the songs on his debut were meant to be filled in by members of Calexico but instead, the demo versions he recorded in his home studio were released as the version of “The creek that drank the cradle” we know and love.
“Lion’s mane” is the opening track and if you’re not familiar with the album, it is representative of the old school folk you’re going to hear with the rest, simple but compelling, and reminiscent of Nick and Paul and all those kids. The song is lo-fi and sparse and intimate and immediate, the simplicity never becoming tired. The acoustic guitar and banjo take turns being lovingly plucked, while Beam softly whispers the vocals without sounding affected. There’s just no need to be loud with such idyllic, woodsy, rustic sounds. You can almost smell the pine, wood smoke, sounds of crickets, and the wind the rustling through the leaves. No, there’s no cell phone signal here or wi-fi or television. Just wood stove coffee and pipe tobacco and periodically walking down to the lake to catch the cool off the water. Lovely stuff.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2002 list, click here.