In Review…Iron & Wine – Around the Well


It’s come to my attention over the past couple of years that liking Iron & Wine is no longer cool. Maybe it was after “Such Great Heights” was featured in Garden State (and definitely after “Flightless Bird American Mouth” was featured in Twilight), but somewhere between the release of Our Endless Numbered Days (2004) and The Shepherd’s Dog (2007) it seemed to me that hipsters frowned at any mix CD containing one of Sam Beams acoustic ballads.

My love for Iron & Wine has not waned over the years, because neither has Sams style. When it comes to whispery acoustic folk with rustic themes, slide guitars, and interesting lyrics, Sam dominates. I even applauded his efforts when things got slightly more adventurous and instrumentally complex with Shepherd’s.

Around The Well, Sam’s newest release, is no different. Being a compilation of rarities and b-sides from over the years, it’s no wonder that this two-disk set sounds exactly like everything you’ve already heard. Which is great if you like Sam’s style…or is it?23 tracks are kind of a lot. And when each song sounds pretty damn similar to the last, things can get old quick. This is why I’ve always thought that Iron & Wine is heard best on an EP – short and sweet. With five songs you don’t have enough time to get burnt out, but with two whole disks…let’s just say I haven’t been able to listen to it in one sitting.

This doesn’t necessarily mean Around The Well is BAD, does it? It just means that it serves a different purpose than an album like Merriweather Post Pavillion or The Hazards of Love which are both best heard cover to cover. My advice to I & W fans? Find your favorites, add them to playlists, and call it day. ATW is definitely more of a pick n’ choose kind of album. Avoid songs with superhero references (see: “Waitin’ For A Superman”), and exclamation points (see: “Peng! 33”) but be sure to spend time with the album opener (see: “Dearest Forsaken”), a song about rings (see: “Belated Promise Ring”), and the longest song on the album (see:”The Trapeze Singer”).

Track Listing
[disc 1]
*1. Dearest Forsaken [SOT]
*2. Morning
3. Loud as Hope
4. Peng!33
5. Sacred Vision
6. Friends They Are Jewels
7. Hickory
8. Waiting For A Superman
9. Swans and the Swimming
10. Call Your Boys
11. Such Great Heights 

[disc 2]
*1. Communion Cups and Someone’s Coat
*2. Belated Promise Ring
3. God Made The Automobile
4. Homeward, These Shoes
*5. Love Vigilantes
6. Shining Hands
7. No Moon
8. Serpent Charmer 
9. Carried Home
10. Kingdom of the Animals
11. Arms of a Thief
*12. The Trapeze Swinger 

*Suggested Track
SOT = Standout Track 
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