Iron and Wine - Woman King (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Iron and Wine

Woman King (2005)

Sub Pop

It bears repeating that Iron & Wine really dazzled critics in 2004 with Our Endless Numbered Days. The picturesque and lavish yet brittle yet complex orchestrations from Sam Beam had everyone from clubs of overt elitism to ones of hip-clinging gushing, while others reveled in their newfound "beardcore" or whatever allusion they liked to assuredly bring up about Sam's proudly grown entanglement. Woman King should help further these actions, assumptions and overall acknowledgements quite easily.

For starters, there's a definitive bit of subtle diversity shoved into the EP's six-track span. The vocal harmonies between the Beams in "Gray Stables" actually comes off very, very Fleetwood Mac-like. It's definitely a comparison a listener initally wouldn't expect, but given the scope of the band's folk-and-otherwise influences, it does sort of make sense. "Jezebel" is a laid back yet desperate track that fits nicely in the EP's start, with Sam Beam's constant asking of the title character's presence. "Evening On The Ground (Lilith's Song)" is an odd choice to close, though, as its lightly galloping pace, jumpy guitar strokes and the schizophrenically prophetic and sexually scheming admission of "we were born to fuck each other one way or another / but IIIII oooonly lieee" makes it the most anxious, pensive track of the bunch, and nonetheless, perhaps the standout, especially the way Beam keeps his whispering style intact despite the obvious tension coming across. The band uses all sorts of instruments to convey the sound throughout, too, whether it be delicate piano strokes or scattered drops of violin.

The prolific act has offered a lot of releases in only the past few years, and between the female themes that surprisingly avoid misogyny and versatile yet certainly cohesive nature Woman King brings to the table, it's yet another solid addition to their growing discography.