Iron & Wine
Around the Well
Around the Well collects two CDs worth of Sam Beam’s Iron & Wine project, including rarities, B-sides, and previously unreleased songs. Beginning with solo efforts, bedroom recordings simultaneously relaxed and inspired (“Sacred Vision”), the compilation gradually unfolds Iron & Wine’s current state of affairs: a full band capable of intricate, lustrous arrangements (“Kingdom of the Animals”).
Predictably, a few of those fans who labored long and hard to acquire the band’s odds and ends prior to this handy compilation are grousing a bit. But even the most dedicated completist will find enough new fare here to intrigue. For example, “Arms of a Thief” takes Beam’s Texas folk trappings and transports them to Persian environs: percussion-heavy and replete with undulating grooves.
Also included are selections from film soundtracks for Garden State and In Good Company. The latter film features Beam’s songs arranged to best advantage: there are copious beautiful vocal harmonies on “Belated Promise Ring” and “The Trapeze Swinger” is Iron & Wine at its most epic and expansive. Their next LP is slated for release in 2010, but Around the Well is no mere placeholder: it’s a delightful collation of fine alt-folk.