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Alternative & Indie - Released January 25, 2011 | 4AD

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélection Les Inrocks
The ongoing journey of Sam Beam from bedroom mystic to ringleader of a slick stadium indie rock band is completed on 2011’s Kiss Each Other Clean. While the previous Iron & Wine album, The Shepherd's Dog, was also very produced and pro-sounding, this album is huge. Beam, a cast of many, and producer Brian Deck have embellished the songs with a ton of studio tricks, a wide variety of instruments from flute to squelchy old synths, and a tightly arranged, loosely flowing feel that anyone who was initially enraptured by Beam’s early recordings might be hard-pressed to recognize. (Though Beam’s voice is still as haunting and intimate as ever for the most part. As is his beard.) Once you accept that I&W are now as established as a “real” band on par with Wilco or the Flaming Lips, some questions arise. Are they still any good? Can Beam still capture a heart with a tender melody and an aching vocal despite all the tricks and sax solos? Does the musicianship on display overpower the songs? Will Beam survive in the big leagues? Most of these questions were answered in the affirmative on the last album; they are reaffirmed here. Beam still writes and sings in a voice that could penetrate even the most syrupy backing -- nothing will likely ever change that. His lyrics have the same broken and bruised poetry they’ve always had, only now they are surrounded by haunting and inventive arrangements that are even more intricate and interesting than on The Shepherd's Dog. This time, Beam and company bring in soft rock smoothness, dub reggae textures, and instruments that haven’t really been featured on previous records. The vintage synths in particular deserve mention; whether they are bubbling like mad on “Monkeys Uptown” or getting Stevie Wonder-funky on “Big Burned Hand,” they give the otherwise very organic-sounding arrangements a welcome cheesy kick. Other aspects that deserve praise are Sarah Simpson’s sweetly sung backing vocals and Deck’s production. He layers instruments and mixes sound like he’s baking a giant cake, giving the songs depth and a widescreen scope in the process. Beam couldn’t have picked a better person for the job of blowing his music up to the large-scale work of beauty it has become. If you’ve been on board since the beginning, you have to marvel at the perfectly timed and logical way the music has progressed. No one could ever accuse Beam of selling out his art, only growing up and building it up. Kiss Each Other Clean is the result of years of growth and change, and though that sounds incredibly boring, it’s also a record full of roiling emotion, tender wit, and deeply felt melodic beauty. In other words, a standard issue Iron & Wine record. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 16, 2013 | 4AD

Distinctions 3F de Télérama - 5/6 de Magic
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 26, 2013 | Sub Pop Records

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International Pop - Released May 7, 2021 | Sub Pop Records

Recorded while Iron & Wine's Sam Beam was a student at Florida State University in the late '90s, this set of songs is a prelude to his stunning Sub Pop debut, The Creek Drank the Cradle. Featuring Beam on acoustic guitar, vocals, and drums with roommate (and future I&W bandmate) EJ Holowicki on bass, there's a homemade feel to the set that's not quite as magical as Creek, but still very nicely intimate and lo-fi. Definitely less loner singing his heart out in a lonely room and more two dudes laying down some good country-adjacent tunes over a few beers. There are some clunky guitar solos, out-of-time guitars, and bass rumbles to contend with, as well as a couple of songs that sound like the work of someone still finding their voice. Mostly, though, the things that make Iron & Wine so lovely are here in nascent form. Beam's voice already has the power to rivet the listener to the speaker in awe of the warmth and feeling he transmits with seemingly no effort. His croon feels like the confession of a close friend, and on songs like "Cold Town" and "Why Hate Winter" (which sounds like backwoods Codeine) it's impossible to escape the raw emotion. There are also a few ghostly vocal harmonies -- like on the halting ballad "Show Him the Ground" -- that point the way to Creek's incredible sound. His lyrics here aren't always as insightful as they came to be -- the occasional lyrical turn feels less than polished -- but there's still plenty of sincere thoughtfulness on display. As far as lost, pre-fame recordings go, Archive Series No.5: Tallahassee Recordings is a genuine find. It skips over the one-off shot of brilliance that is Creek and provides a template for what Iron & Wine would sound like with more filled-out backing and a jauntier, less insular feel. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 25, 2017 | Sub Pop Records

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15 years after the release of The Creek Drank The Cradle, Iron & Wine’s superb pristine first album, Sam Beam has become a recognised songwriter who has taken his Americana in multiple directions. The musician has managed to evolve from naked folk music to a richer instrumentation. However, he’s often at his most convincing in a more refined style with a stripped-down production. This is the case with this Beast Epic that appears to be a return to the roots of his first albums (Our Endless Numbered Days). This feeling is amplified by the fact that Beam reunites with the label that launched his career: Sub Pop Records. Melancholic but not depressing, romantic without being overly attached, this is an album that examines intimacy with grace. And it leaves us wondering why Iron & Wine has avoided going back to basics for so long. Welcome home! © MD/Qobuz
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Rock - Released March 23, 2004 | Sub Pop Records

On Our Endless Numbered Days, the follow-up to 2002's stunningly good Creek Drank the Cradle, the sound of Iron & Wine has changed but the song remains the same. No longer does Sam Beam record his intimate songs in the intimate surroundings of his home. Instead he has made the jump to the recording studio. As a result the record is much cleaner, less cocoon-like, certainly more the product of someone who has become a professional musician and not someone who just records for fun on a four-track. However, all Beam has sacrificed is sound quality. The sound of the record is still very intimate and simple, with very subtle arrangements that leave his voice and lyrics as the focal point. Luckily all the technology in the world can't affect Beam's voice, which still sounds like it comes right from his lips into your ear as if he were an angel perched on your shoulder. His songs are still as strong and memorable as they were on Creek, no drop off whatsoever in quality. "Naked as We Came" with sparkling melody lovely background harmonies by his sister Sarah; the aching folk ballad "Radio War," which wouldn't sound out of place on Prairie Home Companion, only it would be the best thing you ever heard there; the sad and sweet "Each Coming Night"; the crystalline acoustic guitar ballad "Fever Dream," which has the kind of vocal harmony between Beam and his sister that seems to be the exclusive domain of siblings; and the soft rock CSNY "Sodom, South Georgia" are the equal of anything on Iron & Wine's debut and match up well with anything Palace, Smog, or their ilk have done lately. A definite plus to recording in a studio and enlisting the help of outside musicians is that there is much more variety to the album and there are lots of small production touches that liven things up like the Native American chants at the close of "Cinder and Smoke," the pedal steel guitar on "Sunset Soon Forgotten," and the drums and tambourine on the bluesy "Free Until They Cut Me Down." Our Endless Numbered Days is very subdued, thoughtful, melodic, and downright beautiful album and the new sound is more of a progression than a sudden shift in values, production or otherwise. Anyone who found the first album to be wonderful will no doubt feel the same about this one. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 23, 2004 | Sub Pop Records

Fifteen years after its first release in March 2004, Our Endless Numbered Days has re-emerged in all its splendour, this time in Deluxe edition. In 2002, the album The Creek Drank The Cradle introduced us to the subtleties of Iron & Wine’s music and the mastermind behind it, Sam Beam, a small, bearded genius in a shirt from South Carolina. This second album is more masterfully composed and features eight previously unreleased demos for the hard-core fans. Beam is in a league of his own with his soft rhythms, excellent command of vocal harmonies and innate sense of melody, like a kind of American descendant of Nick Drake. His folk music is still delicate and timeless as ever in Naked As We Came and even more so in the crown jewel of the album Sunset Soon Forgotten and it focuses on affairs of the heart more so than the music that Iron & Wine would later record. Even though this was a debut album from his youth, it was incredibly mature. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 31, 2018 | Sub Pop Records

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This EP takes over where 2017's album Beast Epic left off: and that's because its six tracks come from the same recording session. Sam Beam had said that he'd be back a year later with a nice surprise. And, as promised, here is an earthy record that cuts a shining path through the undergrowth. With this romantic EP, Iron & Wine is staying faithful to folk ballads and floaty choruses. It's a plunge into the ensemble's more or less misty memories. Iron & Wine's name has never fit so well.Taking on some painful subjects in a sublime state of semi-drunkenness, Waves of Galveston returns to the tragic event of 1900 when the Texan town was devastated by a hurricane. Over a simple folk melody, Sam Beam imagines, a century later, the catastrophe and the calm after the storm. There's a moving description of the scene, made marvellous by its easy singing ("There's a graveyard by the pizza parlor" / "Papa left you for Heaven after your Mama lost her song"). The American songwriter has a gift for sharpening emotion without falling into florid overwriting. Psychedelic folk ballads against a moderate groove (What Hurts Worse) and some very cool folk (Last of Your Rock 'n' Roll Heroes) rub shoulders with more serious cello strains and tinkling pianos (Milkweed). With Weed Garden, Iron & Wine will seduce fans thanks to a rich and delicate poetry shot through with optimism. © Clara Bismuth/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 18, 2009 | Sub Pop Records

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Rock - Released September 24, 2002 | Sub Pop Records

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Rock - Released September 9, 2003 | Sub Pop Records

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Rock - Released February 22, 2005 | Sub Pop Records

Anyone still hoping that Sam Beam and Iron & Wine will ever go back to the lo-fi sound of their first album might as well give up on that pipe dream. On the 2005 EP Woman King, Iron & Wine's sound is more produced and varied than ever. The record's arrangements are overflowing with a wealth of percussion, vocal harmonies, banjos, violins, and pianos. Beam's vocals, while always a thing of beauty, sound more assured and powerful than ever. Iron & Wine sound like a real band here; if you heard them in a big-budget Hollywood film, you wouldn't even flinch. The widening and smoothing of the band's approach does Beam's songs great favors, too. While his songwriting is as emotionally direct and haunting as ever (no amount of studio sheen could change that), this EP never feels insular, as his previous albums sometimes did. It sounds widescreen and universal. Woman King is too short to be considered the high point of Iron & Wine's career -- it certainly points in that direction, though. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 24, 2015 | Black Cricket Recording Co.

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International Pop - Released April 7, 2021 | Sub Pop Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 17, 2015 | Black Cricket - Brown Records

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It turns out that bearded gents Sam Beam of Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses were friends in their hometown of Columbia, South Carolina back before they were ever touring-bill companions or Sub Pop labelmates (mid- to late aughts), and well before they recorded a covers album together. Perhaps a studio collaboration was inevitable or even overdue given their amity, frequent path-crossing, and shared tastes and influences represented small-scale here on the 12-track Sing Into My Mouth. The title is taken from lyrics in the opening track, "This Must Be the Place" by Talking Heads, a sign of the relative diversity to come, which bridges Sade, John Cale, El Perro del Mar, and Peter La Farge. The Talking Heads tune is a toned-down take with acoustic and slide guitars, bass, piano, accordion, and light percussion, representative of an album full of slide guitar-heavy arrangements that fall squarely within folky expectations. Versions most similar to the originals include Ronnie Lane's "Done This One Before," '70s U.K. band Unicorn's "No Way Out of Here" (better known via David Gilmore's cover), Spiritualized's "Straight and Narrow," and fellow South Carolinians the Marshall Tucker Band's beautifully spare "Ab's Song" -- all folk-inspired or twang-leaning to begin with, and covered affectionately with Beam and Bridwell trading lead-vocal duty throughout the record. Most altered are the duo's reworkings of the strings-supported, Brill Building-esque "God Knows (You Gotta Give to Get)" by Sweden's El Perro del Mar, which is slowed down here and given an earthy woodwind and guitar delivery; Sade's "Bullet Proof Soul," which still sounds uniquely Sade despite a rootsy rearrangement; and Them Two's 1967 soul plea "Am I a Good Man?," previously covered by Bridwell's Band of Horses and captured with enthusiasm on Sing Into My Mouth by piano, reed instruments, electric guitars, bass, and percussion. Other songs include Bonnie Raitt's "Anyday Woman," John Cale's "You Know Me More Than I Know," and J.J. Cale's "Magnolia." That kind of variety keeps things interesting, though none of the arrangements comes as a real surprise with the exception of the closer, "Coyote, My Little Brother" (later covered by Pete Seeger but recorded by its songwriter Peter La Farge in 1963), a yodeling, Native American-inspired lament that gets full dream pop treatment with Bridwell on lead. Still, the represented songwriters and the sequencing, which nimbly waltzes through 50 years of song selections beginning with a quirky new wave tune and ending with a howling cautionary ballad, are rendered with grace. Those attracted to the collaboration's premise will very likely appreciate its results. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 25, 2007 | Sub Pop Records

Iron & Wine have shown an impressive work ethic since the release of The Creek Drank the Cradle in 2002. A flood of singles, EPs, and albums, each with high levels of quality, have made Iron & Wine and Sam Beam stars in the indie rock world. Introspective, leaning toward morose, and heavily bearded stars, but glittering just the same. 2007's The Shepherd's Dog goes a long way toward validating all the attention I&W have been getting; it's their best, most diverse, and most listenable record yet, as Beam and co. take another leap away from the lo-fi, one-dude-in-a-bedroom beginnings of the group. Here Beam surrounds himself with a large cast of musicians, and they blanket the songs with a wide array of instrumentation, everything from accordions to Hammond organ, piano to backward guitars, vibraphone to bass harmonica. Nothing too strange in the everything-goes world of indie rock circa 2007, but for Iron & Wine, it's a widescreen revelation. Perhaps working with Calexico on 2005's In the Reins inspired Beam to use all the colors in the paint box. Maybe it's a natural progression. Either way it leads to an inspiringly lush album, full of imaginative and rich arrangements. Not to say Beam has cast aside the vital elements that made the band so interesting to begin with; his whispered vocals still conjure shadowy mystery, the songs are still melancholy as hell at their core, and as always there's a lingering sense of Southern gothic foreboding shrouding the proceedings. The increased production values take these elements and goose them. The recognizably I&W songs like the dark and creepy "Peace Beneath the City" or the gloomy country ballad "Resurrection Fern" sound bigger and have a different kind of impact. Take "Boy with a Coin," which in the past would have been spare, spooky, and a bit insular, but now is huge and spooky thanks to the propulsive handclaps and atmospheric backward guitars that would make Daniel Lanois jealous. Along with these pumped-up variations on the band's classic sound, there are songs you'd never imagine hearing on an Iron & Wine album. The danceable (!) "House by the Sea" has jumpy Afro-pop underpinnings and a bit of wild abandon in Beam's more passionate-than-usual vocals; "Wolves (Song of the Shepherd's Dog)" is a funky mix of David Essex's "Rock On," a backwoods-sounding Meters, and of all things, dub reggae; and most shockingly, "The Devil Never Sleeps" actually rocks with a rollicking barroom piano, a loping tempo, bongos, and lyrics about nothing on the radio, leading to a sound that's ironically perfect for the radio. By the end of the record, you may feel a few pangs for the discarded, sparse sound of early Iron & Wine, but the beauty and majesty of The Shepherd's Dog will pave right over them, and you should be able to enjoy the masterful songcraft, inspired performance, and note-perfect production with no guilt and a fair bit of awe. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 28, 2016 | Black Cricket Recording Co. - Keep Your Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 17, 2015 | Black Cricket - Brown Records

It turns out that bearded gents Sam Beam of Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses were friends in their hometown of Columbia, South Carolina back before they were ever touring-bill companions or Sub Pop labelmates (mid- to late aughts), and well before they recorded a covers album together. Perhaps a studio collaboration was inevitable or even overdue given their amity, frequent path-crossing, and shared tastes and influences represented small-scale here on the 12-track Sing Into My Mouth. The title is taken from lyrics in the opening track, "This Must Be the Place" by Talking Heads, a sign of the relative diversity to come, which bridges Sade, John Cale, El Perro del Mar, and Peter La Farge. The Talking Heads tune is a toned-down take with acoustic and slide guitars, bass, piano, accordion, and light percussion, representative of an album full of slide guitar-heavy arrangements that fall squarely within folky expectations. Versions most similar to the originals include Ronnie Lane's "Done This One Before," '70s U.K. band Unicorn's "No Way Out of Here" (better known via David Gilmore's cover), Spiritualized's "Straight and Narrow," and fellow South Carolinians the Marshall Tucker Band's beautifully spare "Ab's Song" -- all folk-inspired or twang-leaning to begin with, and covered affectionately with Beam and Bridwell trading lead-vocal duty throughout the record. Most altered are the duo's reworkings of the strings-supported, Brill Building-esque "God Knows (You Gotta Give to Get)" by Sweden's El Perro del Mar, which is slowed down here and given an earthy woodwind and guitar delivery; Sade's "Bullet Proof Soul," which still sounds uniquely Sade despite a rootsy rearrangement; and Them Two's 1967 soul plea "Am I a Good Man?," previously covered by Bridwell's Band of Horses and captured with enthusiasm on Sing Into My Mouth by piano, reed instruments, electric guitars, bass, and percussion. Other songs include Bonnie Raitt's "Anyday Woman," John Cale's "You Know Me More Than I Know," and J.J. Cale's "Magnolia." That kind of variety keeps things interesting, though none of the arrangements comes as a real surprise with the exception of the closer, "Coyote, My Little Brother" (later covered by Pete Seeger but recorded by its songwriter Peter La Farge in 1963), a yodeling, Native American-inspired lament that gets full dream pop treatment with Bridwell on lead. Still, the represented songwriters and the sequencing, which nimbly waltzes through 50 years of song selections beginning with a quirky new wave tune and ending with a howling cautionary ballad, are rendered with grace. Those attracted to the collaboration's premise will very likely appreciate its results. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 31, 2018 | Sub Pop Records

This EP takes over where 2017's album Beast Epic left off: and that's because its six tracks come from the same recording session. Sam Beam had said that he'd be back a year later with a nice surprise. And, as promised, here is an earthy record that cuts a shining path through the undergrowth. With this romantic EP, Iron & Wine is staying faithful to folk ballads and floaty choruses. It's a plunge into the ensemble's more or less misty memories. Iron & Wine's name has never fit so well.Taking on some painful subjects in a sublime state of semi-drunkenness, Waves of Galveston returns to the tragic event of 1900 when the Texan town was devastated by a hurricane. Over a simple folk melody, Sam Beam imagines, a century later, the catastrophe and the calm after the storm. There's a moving description of the scene, made marvellous by its easy singing ("There's a graveyard by the pizza parlor" / "Papa left you for Heaven after your Mama lost her song"). The American songwriter has a gift for sharpening emotion without falling into florid overwriting. Psychedelic folk ballads against a moderate groove (What Hurts Worse) and some very cool folk (Last of Your Rock 'n' Roll Heroes) rub shoulders with more serious cello strains and tinkling pianos (Milkweed). With Weed Garden, Iron & Wine will seduce fans thanks to a rich and delicate poetry shot through with optimism. © Clara Bismuth/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 2, 2017 | Black Cricket Recording Co.

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