Shmat Records
Shmat Recordsad spacer
ad spacer
fun fact
The ocean sunfish can produce thirty million eggs at once.

shmat friends


questions?

If you have burning questions, please visit the FAQ or contact the Shmat.

reviews
Archives:  #-B | C-F | G-K | L-N | O-S | T-Z | ALL | SEARCH

Shmat's Reviews
For more reviews, please visit Palebear which is where all future Shmat reviews will appear (as of March 2006).

Iron and Wine
Woman King (CD EP)


I sort of feel sorry for Sam Beam because while many fans will tolerate and even encourage the added instrumentation in his new Woman King EP there are others who are going to cry foul at mucking up the proven lo-fi folk formula that got him signed to Subpop in the first place - simply on the strength of a home recording demo he did. To those in the latter camp, you can look at the work of someone like Elliott Smith in comparison. I got into his earlier sparse and bleak four track stuff first so it took a bit of getting used to when something like Figure 8 came out, with all its bells, whistles, and beatlesque symphonic grandeur. Sure, it was a departure, but the important thing was the primal backbone of the song was still there. The beauty of the traversal remained, that insular yet populist musical journey that this type of music captures which is what attracted me in the first place.

And so it is with this EP. The indie folk that Iron and Wine is known for, that gentle interlacing of melody and acoustic guitar, becomes transformed into something more. He brings in tinkling pianos, electric guitars, banjos, and even percussive elements into the mix. And the subject matter is interesting, for while Beam has always been extremely good at extending heartfelt but unusual imagery in his lyrics, in this case he tackles the meditation of something that he clearly would have less personal experience with. Namely, being a woman... or as the press kit so eloquently states, the "cult of the woman".

While the opening title track certainly feels like a departure not only in the amount of instruments, recording quality and general feel, "Jezebel" will certainly please those looking for the old sounds of Sam. That song is sparse and definitely haunted by Beam's familiar low but long vocal scrawls and rest stroke finger picking style. For some reason the electric guitar on this song sounds remarkably like Richard Thompson on Nick Drake's stuff. "Gray Stables" adds tambourine, bongos, and fiddle to the mixture while the bouncy "Freedom Hangs Like Heaven" includes among the shakers and drums a fun little banjo solo. "Evening On The Ground" breaks new Iron and Wine ground not only for it's growling electric guitar for being the first song I've heard by Beam to include any sort of cussing at all. The inclusion of that naked "f-word" is not overt, but it feels symbolically like he's taken off the kid gloves. Not that he's punching at everything, but he certainly seems to signal that there's experimentation and growth to be had here...

But whether or not he continues the trend of fleshing out the lo-fi body structures of his songs, it's clear that Iron and Wine's songs will remain vital and substantial any way they are presented.

- review by BY (3.4.05)        

Sub Pop Records
2514 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
206-441-8441
info@subpop.com
www.ironandwine.com/



25 Random Reviews

9.28.04  Soltero
3.9.05  Jason Spiewak
7.17.03  Jamie Pigg
11.17.04  Quiet Bears
1.13.05  Slomo Rabbit Kick
9.17.03  Blackfall
8.26.04  Casino Ashtrays
8.3.03  The Brands
6.21.05  Michelle Payne
6.27.03  Jennifer Casey
3.3.04  Snoozer
4.27.04  Paper Planes
3.25.04  The Elected
8.29.05  Pants Pants Pants
10.22.04  Kevin Huelbig, Jr.
12.5.04  Jeff Richie
7.10.05  Beltline
10.19.04  Bill Santen
1.29.04  Thank God For Astronauts
2.3.04  Jai Alai
5.3.04  All Night Radio
5.5.05  American Eyes
5.26.05  Fishstick
7.4.04  Breezy Porticos
6.2.03  James Mason