Album: “Beast Epic”
Artist: Iron and Wine
Length: 36 minutes
It can always be interesting to see an artist go back to their roots. That is exactly what singer/song-writer Iron & Wine did with his latest release, “Beast Epic.” This is a record in which we hear Iron & Wine scale back the orchestral stylings that we often associate with him for more simplistic layers, and it manages to work really well.
Samuel Beam is best known by his stage name Iron & Wine. This folk musician from South Carolina has always had a unique style in his music. From his debut album, “The Creek Drank the Candle” in 2002, he was noted for having a soothing voice that almost hinged on spoken word. From slower and acoustic elements to larger than life themes, Beam has always managed to stir up emotion in his listeners. With each subsequent release, he kept adding more to his style. Albums such as “Kiss Each Other Clean” and “Ghost on Ghost” really launched Iron & Wine into the mainstream. Now, with his eighth studio album, we can hear Beam go back to what started his career and focus more on his personally story.
“Beast Epic” is an 11-track record that clocks in at 36 minutes in length. From pacing and structure, you will immediately pick up that this is a slow record. There isn’t a whole lot of progression in most the tracks. For a record built like this, you would almost expect it to drag, and yet it doesn’t at all. When all is said and done, “Beast Epic” is a transitional record when you listen to it, from a much more mature and reflective standpoint that it was written.
When you listen to the songs “Call It Dreaming” or “Thomas County Law,” you will hear essentially two completely different songs in tone. This is what really suits the record best; even without more layers to the song, Iron & Wine can make something fresh and new. Then, you get something like “Last Night,” which really stands out from the record purely based on the styling. While it doesn’t necessarily quite fit into the rest of the record, it is still a soothing track to listen to. The best way to sum up the sound of the record is that Iron & Wine can make a lot out of nothing.
Lyrically, we see Beam become a more mature songwriter than he already was. From the lead track, “Claim Your Ghost,” you can hear how much more reflective Beam has become in recent years. The one track that really stands is “Right for Sky,” which has Beam showing off his range in both performance and composition. There might not be any direct link to bring you from song to song, but you cannot help but get the feeling of listening to someone who knows you better than you. This is especially true when listening to “Our Light Miles.”
Should you listen to it? Yes!
Iron & Wine has always had this reassuring style, and listeners could always find comfort in the music. With “Beast Epic,” that couldn’t be any truer. Listeners are going to find that this record is easy to lose yourself in. Every time you come back to listen to “Beast Epic,” you may find something that you didn’t notice before, and that is a quality that only amazing song-writers can achieve.
Collegian reporter Alec Erickson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @CTV_Ace.