Iron & Wine: Around the Well (2009)

(Sub Pop)

There are some bands that we can listen to no matter the moment and 90% of the time they work. The music inexplicably builds energy, soothes senses, eases tensions, ignites excitement, or wafts through the air bouncing harmlessly from faces and furniture, existing and adding. Iron and Wine’s collection of rare early recordings, hard to find releases, and a slew of unreleased stuff isn’t that kind of album.

So far, this album is appropriate in only three situations:
1) A cup of coffee and a time of reflection
2)Long drives: opening credit montages of dramas, cross country sunrise or sunset cruises (preferably under the dappled shade of long leafy road-bridging branches)
3) Breezy days as the seasons change and cool noses nuzzle clavicles

However, if you find yourself in one of these positions this album imbues palpable warmth and satisfaction. Otherwise, it is just really slow and disjointed. The collection aspect never allows it to develop any continuity so unlike other albums it lacks rhythm. And did I mention slow?

Nearly all acoustic, Sam Beam has a low whispering voice and enjoys telling a good story but 20 whispered tales will put anyone to sleep eventually. I don’t recommend it for newbies to the band, yet individual morsels such as “Morning,” “Such Great Heights,” “Dearest Forsaken,” and “The Trapeze Swinger” are quite tasty.

If new, try: The Shepherd’s Dog (most orchestrated album; diverse acoustic sound), The Creek Drank the Cradle (understated but gorgeous, you are stone if unaffected). Come back to the collection later.

Nevertheless, download this jam: The Trapeze Swinger

“…But please remember me fondly/
I heard from someone you’re still pretty/
And then they went on to say/
That the Pearly Gates/
Had some eloquent graffiti/
Like ‘we’ll meet again’ and ‘Fuck the man’/
And ‘tell my mother not to worry’/
And angels with their great handshakes/
Were always done in such a hurry/
And please remember me…”


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