album review::Iron and Wine:The Shepherd’s Dog

Iron and Wine released The Shepherd’s Dog on Sub Pop this week. Let me say there is all sorts of fun stuff going on here including seventies style interludes with space funk elements, segments that sound like seventies prog, and of course all the great songs you are used to from Sam Beam. For starters, “Love Song of The Buzzard” is surely one of the stars of the show. The music alone is just great, with all that harmonica, the semi- Latin drums, the breezy doubled vocals, the church organ, and the sound of those steel strings bending and chiming from the metal being drug across them. The music feels like it is emanating from somewhere between the dry and dusty Texarkana towns and an otherwise unnoted tropical locale. As for the mood, it is a melancholic derivative, however it is the optimistic sort of melancholy that one might find on say Bryter Layter.

As for standouts, another at least sub-tropical tune “Innocent Bones” has the banjo plucking away and the most melodic and sweet sounding chorus on The Shepherd’s Dog. Changing direction, the adventurous “Wolves(Song of the Shepherd Boy)” incorporates a 70’s long rocker feel with break downs, segways, climaxes, and a druggy atmosphere. I love how all that is followed by the very solitary and just pretty sounding “Resurrection Fern” which appears from the haze of “Wolves” as a beacon of light where direction may or may not be found, but all seekers are welcome. Then out of nowhere comes the rave-up “The Devil Never Sleeps,” with Donovanesque vocals and music that bares a good resemblance to something that might have been on B & S’s Sinister record.

All in all, The Shepherd’s Dog is sure to be one of the year’s best records. As a result of all the great songs and the instrumentation, the album unravels like you’re on a long winding road. Finally, listening to The Shepherd’s Dog unfold is an adventure that one moment will have you outdoors by the fire; next you may find yourself in some prog rockish escapade; or floating in the midst of a shamanistic ritual; or anywhere I suppose where they like good music.

Innocent Bones mp3Boy With a Coin mp3

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