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Iron and Wine - Around the Well (Cover Artwork)

Iron and Wine

Iron and Wine: Around the WellAround the Well (2009)
Sub Pop Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5


Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Iron and Wine, né Sam Beam, has really only been releasing records since 2002, yet Around the Well oddly seems overdue. Beam's only issued three studio albums, but countless singles, EPs and film contributions have been dropped between and among album release dates. Much of it is collected for this.
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Iron and Wine, né Sam Beam, has really only been releasing records since 2002, yet Around the Well oddly seems overdue. Beam's only issued three studio albums, but countless singles, EPs and film contributions have been dropped between and among album release dates. Much of it is collected for this monolithic compilation, a two-disc set that spans over an hour and a half of pensive, hushed folk that, while should grow tiring, remains starkly gratifying and just magnetic enough during its duration.

Just about all of the tracks on Disc 1 carry that quasi-lo-fi approach present on much of Beam's discography, putting a pictorial emphasis on his warm acoustic strokes and breathy carry-along voice, while occasional frills -- backing female "ooh"s, an adjoining twangy guitar -- spice the proceedings up. You can practically hear the tape running in deliberate, earthy hummers like "Loud as Hope" and "Friends They Are Jewels," while the chords just flutter impressively for their take on the Flaming Lips' "Waitin' for a Superman." Of course, the highlight everyone wants to hear is here, too -- Beam's incredibly restrained cover of the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights," filled with extravagant hushes and a chorus delivered so deliberately it could be Beam's soundtrack to brain surgery. That's a good thing, mind you.

Disc 2 is a little longer -- perhaps due to nine-and-a-half-minute closer "The Trapeze Swinger" -- and with its songs a little stronger in the production department. Beam's voice reverberates stronger and the strings are pricked and plucked with crisper consistency. More auxiliary additives come in the upbeat "Belated Promise Ring," with a piano-plinked bridge, and the shaker in "God Made the Automobile" pushes it along at a fine clip. One of the most hook-filled endeavors comes in "Carried Home," repetitive enough to stick well and employed with off-kilter programming blips. Subtle dynamics pervert "Kingdom of the Animals" nicely.

Granted, there are a handful of moments on Around the Well that simply beg for at least a hint of disquiet. And while it's surprisingly one-sided for an odds 'n sods collection, Iron and Wine's Around the Well is still a perfectly pleasant assortment of tracks that should more than tide over fans waiting on the proper followup to 2007's acclaimed The Shepherd's Dog.

Belated Promise Ring

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
oneborneveryminute (June 24, 2009)

This album really is incredible. It really lacks the feel of a whole album as I've heard a handful of the songs countless times over the last few years, especially Trapeze Swinger and Such Great Heights. But the unheard ones hold up.
If you get the opportunity to see him play live, do it. He has great stage presence and his quiet approach to song writing translates really well in front of an audience, inside or outside.
I'd have to say, overall, Communion Cups is my favourite, followed by the amazing cover of Waiting For Superman. Beautiful.

joeg (June 24, 2009)
wearestillalive (June 24, 2009)

Trapeze Singer is easily, hands down, by a fucking mile, his best post-home recordings song. Maybe his best song overall. It is incredible.

mattramone (June 23, 2009)

Picked this up yesterday. Really stoked to make some time to sit down and listen to the whole thing uninterrupted.

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