Artist: Iron & Wine
Title: “The Creek Drank the Cradle”
Format: Compact disc (Spotify)
Sam Beam jolted to indie superstardom thanks to generous song placement in films. Plucked from 2007′s ”The Shepherd’s Dog,” “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” stands as his best-known track thanks to its inclusion in the “Twilight” series.
Before those films inexplicably cottoned to indie music, there was Beam – who performs under the moniker Iron & Wine – crafting gentle folk songs on his debut, “The Creek Drank the Cradle.”
It’s his best effort aside from “Shepherd’s Dog,” which took the formula from “Creek” and stood it on its head. Beam writes, records and produces “Creek” himself, creating a warm atmosphere with only his voice and his guitar or, sometimes, banjo.
It gives “Creek” a personal touch. Hushed, hang-dog vocals are reminiscent of the late Elliott Smith in that they sit barely above the surface, sometimes difficult to distinguish, but always revelatory. Also, his guitar work shows appropriate restraint, which is fitting because this isn’t the kind of material that calls for dazzle.
“Creek’s” failings come in its atmosphere growing too familiar as the disc wears on. While Beam hasn’t yet showed the dynamism he displayed on “Shepherd’s Dog,” “Creek” blows away its successor, “Our Endless Numbered Days.”
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.