Saturday, August 13, 2011

1r0n & Win3- The Cr33k Dr@nk the Cr@dle (2002) / The Se@ & the Rhythm EP (2003) MP3 & FLAC

"Love is a scene I render when you catch me wide awake. Love's a dream you enter though I shake and shake and shake you."

Until a homemade tape made its way into the hands of Sup Pop co-owner Jonathan Poneman (with an assist from the editor of Portland-area art mag Yeti, who had previously included an Iron and Wine song on a Yeti compilation CD), Sam Beam was the perfect embodiment of the "bedroom artist": working as a Miami-area Professor of  Film & Cinematography by day, by night writing hauntingly beautiful folk songs as equally grounded in the Delta-Blues as they were Nick Drake. He had been writing songs for the better part of a decade when a friend lent him a four-track recorder, and it was from these homemade demos that Beam's Sub Pop debut, released under the moniker Iron and Wine, was culled. While it's tempting to compare The Creek Drank the Cradle with other contemporary, feathery-voiced, folk-based singer-songwriters (there is a seemingly endless supply of them out there), Beam's debut sounds unique, not only due to the meticulously constructed yet lo-fi pedigree of the songs, the way the album as a whole reaches back to influences that pre-date folk music's 1960s-era heyday in addition to displaying an affinity with idiosyncratic Tahoma artists such as John Fahey and Robbie Basho, but also lyrically, as his use of imagery and symbolism, especially relating to animals, lends the album a singular and affective emotional tenor. On the loping opening track, "Lion's Mane," Beam's hushed, lullaby-esque vocal delivery provides perfect accompaniment to the gentle, woody-sounding acoustic guitar arpeggios and slide guitar accents that dominate the song's minimalist arrangement. Lyrically, Beam tends toward impressionistic images of love's allusiveness, perhaps suggesting, with lines such as, "Love's like a tired symphony to hum when you're awake," that is is inevitably so. Yet, as is the case with many of his songs, an animal symbol, in this case, a lion's mane, is used to interject a particularly ambivalent sense of hope into the narrative. Beam's Delta-Blues influence steps forth loud and clear on Southern Gothic tales such as "The Rooster Moans"; with its plucked banjo and slide guitar, it taps into the creaky mystique of an old 78, which serves as the perfect backdrop to its narrative of a young man's journey toward perdition. Another aspect that sets The Creek Drank the Cradle apart is Beam's astonishingly effective use of over-dubbed vocal harmonies. For example, on the achingly dark "Upward Over the Mountain," he over-dubs additional vocal tracks sung at a higher pitch but buried deeply in the mix; the ghostly effect that results is largely responsible for the song's considerable emotional impact. On his follow-up album, Our Endless Numbered Days, Beam, now with a professional recording studio at his disposal, left behind the charming austerity of his debut, and while the more polished results are often equally impressive, Beam's early songs possess a hazy timelessness that no studio could hope to replicate.

The Creek Drank the Cradle
(Sub Pop ~ 2002)

1. Lion's Mane  (2:50)
2. Bird Stealing Bread  (4:21)
3. Faded from the Winter  (3:18)
4. Promising Light  (2:49)
5. The Rooster Moans  (3:25)
6. Upward Over the Mountain  (5:56)
7. Southern Anthem  (3:54)
8. An Angry Blade  (3:48)
9. Weary Memory  (4:01)
10. Promise What You Will  (2:24)
11. Muddy Hymnal  (2:44)

The Sea & the Rhythm EP 
(Sub Pop ~ 2003)

1. Beneath the Balcony  (3:30)
2. The Sea and the Rhythm  (5:24)
3. The Night Descending  (3:14)
4. Jesus the Mexican Boy  (4:57)
5. Someday the Waves  (4:14)


  1. Okay I'm going in and hoping for the best. I'm nervous....

  2. scurfie, don't worry, it's great stuff. I saw this guy live many times when I lived in the Bay Area

  3. Satanic MalfunctionsAugust 13, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    No need for cryptic naming there won't be any crackdown. You lived in the Bay Area?! Do you have any Nigel Peppercock albums?

  4. Many thanks voixautre. these are perfect for nocturnal listening. enjoying it terribly, i must say.

  5. ALTCERF, good to hear from you! I completely agree. I love early I&W


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.