Iron & Wine is one of those musical experiences that I didn’t get the first time. The hushed, whispered vocals and soft acoustic guitars just didn’t speak to me. Boy has that changed and it seems like it was at just the right time as he launches two new projects – the documentary Dreamers and Makers are my Favorite People and the associated songs on the album Archive Series Volume No. 1.
In 2013, Sam Beam (the man behind Iron & Wine), released Ghost on Ghost. Sam put away the whispers and sang his heart out. As NPR noted at the time…
No one’s ever been voted Least Likely To Lead An 11-Piece Band, but if such an honor had been bestowed 12 years ago, Sam Beam would’ve been a frontrunner.
The extra instruments and clearer voice delivered a new sound for Iron & Wine and a couple of my favorite songs – Caught in the Briars and Low Light Buddy of Mine. The songs have a new musical depth that had been missing to me on previous work. That new depth created room for interesting additions, including a horn section!
On the new Archives and Dreamers & Makers, Sam goes way back into his vault. These songs are some of the first he had ever written and most have never been recorded before. What sold me, though, was the documentary. It’s filmed at a Jerry Run Summer Theater. The theater was built out in the woods of West Virginia. You won’t just stumble across it… you have to go looking for it. Because of that, it makes it a destination for great local music. They don’t always get talent like Iron & Wine, so this was a treat. I loved one anecdote about a conversation with Bradley Cooper in 1999 on an independent movie set in Florida before either of them had gained any fame.
Anybody in an independent film in Florida was a nobody. We were like hanging out at this wrap party, and we were drunk and I was playing guitar. So, I played this tune and he was like, “Hey, that’s pretty good!” And I was like, “What do you know, man? Whatever.”
You never know, man. You gotta be nice to people, because they might turn into movie stars. Think about that. [laughter]
Seeing Sam on stage playing these personal songs and telling his stories really let me in to his experience. My favorite song in the set is probably Freckle Girl at 20:23. Between the recent album and this film, I have a new appreciation of the quiet moments and want to go back and give those older albums a second chance.
Go watch the movie and listen to the album, then let me know what you think!