Sunday, February 13, 2005

Iron and Wine

Artist: Iron & Wine
Album: Woman King
Label: Sub-Pop

Aside from achingly beautiful melodies and soulful sincerity, the main attraction to Iron & Wine has always been the immediate and arresting intimacy of the songs. Samuel Beam and his sister created this feeling by playing very, very quietly. So the introduction of elaborate percussion, violin and electric guitar was always going to be a risky strategy. Woman King, the first of six tracks grabs your attention from the off with Celtic style rhythms and staccato acoustic guitar, reminiscent of the opening to Radiohead’s There there. The sound is noticeably different, yet unmistakably Iron & Wine. The album shows a natural progression from the threadbare debut of 2002's The Creek Drank the Cradle to a songwriter who is using new sounds and textures to add depth and variety to his musings. Thematically all six tracks focus on the various roles of a female in our lives; from idol to warrior, saint to monarch and lover to enemy. Reflecting on the mystery of attraction Beam sings ‘Thank God you see me the way you do/Strange as you are to me’ on the standout track My Lady’s House. Iron & Wine’s third offering follows the precedent set by their previous flawless records with vivid imagery and uncompromising creativity yet blossoming and maturing all the while.

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