Iron and Wine: The Shepherd’s Dog


From the peculiarity of being a neo-folker from South Florida, Iron and Wine’s Sam Beam has always seen music through his own world. From infrequent touring to sparse, atmospheric recordings, Beam is the songwriter that is groomed for the underground, a vibration of mystery and curiosity.

On his third Iron and Wine full length, The Shepherd’s Dog, Beam sticks with his token formula of hushed melodies and moving lyrics as the ground-work, but goes in a whole new direction above.  Like his flowing mane and beard, Beam grew out the production level on the album, that includes African rhythms and expanded instrumentation of courtesy of Joey Burns and Paul Niehaus from Calexico, Califone’s Jim Becker and Tin Hat Trio’s Rob Burger.

Although Beam’s voice can be taken as too gentle for fronting more than an acoustic guitar, he proves wrong on “White Tooth Man” and “Boy with a Coin.” And although the sonic layering takes away from comprehending the lyrics, which can be distracting (“Wolves”), this multi-instrumentation is the backbone and  purpose of the new integration.
“The Devil Never Sleeps” is a honky-tonk bar swinger with its boisterous piano, that’s quite unlike any I & R number,  while “Resurrection Fern” stays true to its acoustic past.  The final track, the dance waltz of “Flightless Bird, American Mouth,” shows that Iron and Wine has ultimately discovered a new world of sound in 2007.

This reviewer got the "keep it down" knock from his apartment neighbors while reviewing The Shepherd’s Dog, previously un-heard of for the "hush"  of Iron and Wine.

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