widg‧et /ˈwɪdʒɪt/ [wij-it] -noun: Pointless ramblings from the New Forest. Obviously complete & utter Rubbish. Why must I contibute to all this endless talk about me? My self-indulgent knees, spilling themselves all over the internet. Obviously i am Jon and his hair, I AM HIM!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Peachy Hoop Toss (Four)

Iron & Wine
The Shepherd's Dog

Beef up your blood! So says the bottle of liquid dietary fun that Mr Iron & Wine, Sam Beam, took his stage name from, and from the sounds of it, it's more than just the contents of his veins that have been beefed up. Dragging a couple of "alt.country" rockers, Calexico along from their last collaborative effort, 'In the Reins ep', to augment his band, he has created a record that I can only describe as deliciously meaty, compared to previous efforts.

Iron & Wine were first brought to my attention a couple of years ago by their cover of 'Such Great Heights' on a Postal Service single (which since appeared on the 'Garden State' soundtrack). I was reacquainted with them on my birthday last year, when I found their last 2 albums amongst my haul of pressies. Originally featuring mainly stripped back vocal & guitar, in an American folk stylee, there has been an organic progression to a mature & lush full band sound this time around. The soft whispery voice is still there, but a new found country swagger is apparent on some tracks, especially bluesy workout, 'The Devil Never Sleeps' and the single, 'Boy With a Coin', driven by infectious hand claps and a rolling guitar riff.

It's not all juicy Americana though, a couple of tracks seem to even go so far afield as dub reggae ('Wolves'), or mixing West African rhythms and an Indian sitar strum or two with the usual slide guitar & banjo ('House by the Sea', for example), albeit less obtrusively or Paul Simonesque than my favourite new band, Vampire Weekend.

Lyrically, there are some standout references to America's recent troubles, specifically George Bush with his religious bigotry, and the Iraq war, as in 'Carosel': "Almost home, with an olive branch and a dove, you were beating on a Persian rug, with your bible and your wedding band, both hidden on a TV stand"; or, from 'Innocent Bones: '"There ain’t a penthouse Christian wants the pain of the scab, but they all want the scar." Old Testament characters even get a look in with allusions to Noah being a crackhead and Adam & Eve's son, Abel, a stoner.

Like the object of the song that bears the most resemblance to Iron & Wine of old here, 'Reserection Fern', Mr Beam's band has survived a remarkable change and returned stronger & more vital, but still as warm & reassuringly fuzzy as before. The perfect blend of old & new.


Blogger AlphIANo said...

Ooh, very interesting, again I've not heard this much apart from a couple of times at work. It sounded great but I'll have to digest it more.

This has got me really intrigued now, and is much more fun than last year! At least there's no danger of writing the same thing... unless our top 3 are identical. Oh no, I've jinxed it now, the musical blog version of "wine list"!

12:09 am


Post a Comment

<< Home