Iron & Wine - Beast Epic album review

The circle is complete with a back-to-basics return

Cover art for Iron & Wine - Beast Epic album

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Apart from a collaboration with Band Of Horses’ Ben Bridwell, it’s been four years since Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam graced the cultural landscape with his delicious voice and lustrous facial hair. This, the project’s sixth album, is a return home of sorts with a move back to the Sub Pop label and the sparse acoustic dynamics that characterised those earliest records.

Not that this is a collection that looks back. The production is slicker and cleaner than those far off days, and the maturity of a life long lived forms the basis of the album’s 11 songs.

Call It Dreaming and Summer Clouds encapsulate the album’s strengths and also its shortcomings. This is tender and meditative music that contemplates the complex tapestry of existence. By the same token, the slow-paced nature of the songs robs the album of much needed texture that too often evokes lamentation rather than a celebration.

Julian Marszalek

Julian Marszalek is the former Reviews Editor of The Blues Magazine. He has written about music for Music365, Yahoo! Music, The Quietus, The Guardian, NME and Shindig! among many others. As the Deputy Online News Editor at Xfm he revealed exclusively that Nick Cave’s second novel was on the way. During his two-decade career, he’s interviewed the likes of Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Ozzy Osbourne, and has been ranted at by John Lydon. He’s also in the select group of music journalists to have actually got on with Lou Reed. Marszalek taught music journalism at Middlesex University and co-ran the genre-fluid Stow Festival in Walthamstow for six years.