On August 25, 2017, Sam Beam released his sixth studio album as Iron & Wine, Beast Epic. I was especially excited for this release because I preordered the deluxe LP that features three demo songs. The album was even more beautiful in person with its rich cover colors, embroidered Sam Beam, and bright red and blue vinyls.
(Front and back of Beast Epic Deluxe LP. Images courtesy of ironandwine.com)
If you’ve never listened to Iron & Wine, he is described as an indie folk singer-songwriter. He has been releasing music as Iron & Wine since 2002. Later in his career, some of his work exhibited jazz and pop influences. However, Beast Epic has resounding echoes of his earlier work, including one of my favorite albums, Our Endless Numbered Days.
I know I am entirely biased in this case, but Beast Epic is one of my favorite releases so far this year. It feels like a graceful return to Iron & Wine’s roots. The songs are humble and stripped back. The album’s sound reflects its process: recorded with a small group of musicians, relatively simply, and often live.
In the official album announcement, Beam states, “The rite of passage is an image I’ve returned to often because I feel we’re all constantly in some stage of transition. Beast Epic is saturated with this idea but in a different way simply because each time I return to the theme, I’ve collected new experiences to draw from.”
I use the word favorite loosely (because it is so damn hard to choose) when I say my favorite songs off the album are, in order according to the track list: Claim Your Ghost, Thomas County Law, and About a Bruise (I honestly prefer the demo version).
But each song carries the distinct Iron & Wine sound that I craved and hoped for when the album was first announced. Iron & Wine’s work has been a comfort to me for years, and this album is no exception. Thanks for making music, Mr. Beam. See you in November.