March 08, 2007

Iron and Wine's New Album: Shepherd's Dog


PHOTO BY RYAN PARDUE"After recording an EP and touring with Calexico, as well as taking time off to rear his infant daughter, Iron & Wine principal Sam Beam has wrapped his next studio album, "The Shepherd's Dog." The 12-track set is due in late September via Sub Pop and will be supported with a two-month fall tour of North America and Europe.

"That tour affected me a lot," Beam tells of his time spent with Calexico. "They're such good musicians. I already knew I wanted to do a much freer record; a little bit more of a playful record. Their influence just helped me even more."

Beam says the new album has a "wider sonic palette" than anything he's previously released. Among the guests are Calexico's Joey Burns and Paul Niehaus, Tin Hat Trio accordionist Rob Burger and Califone's Brian Deck. "There's some waltzes, reggae-influenced stuff and some straight-up West African highlife music," he says, the latter style of which crops up on "House by the Sea."

A single, likely led by album track "Boy With a Coin," is being eyed for a summer release backed by two of the four songs from the "Shepherd's Dog" sessions that did not make the final cut. "It's got an African-sounding guitar thing. It's kind of familiar, but at the same time pretty indicative of the playfulness of this new record," Beam says of "Boy With a Coin."

With the exception of "Carousel," every song had its basis in a backlog of material that Beam has been gradually chipping away at for years. "It's still pretty sizable," he admits. "I'm already working on the next one. A lot of them, you think you're on the right track, but when it comes time to record, they don't seem different enough."

"The Shepherd's Dog" is the follow-up to 2004's "Our Endless Numbered Days," which has sold nearly 200,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Beam attributes the three-year gap in new albums to working in his new home studio. "This is the first time I was ever actually able to do some stuff and then sit on it for awhile and react to what we'd done," he says. "I ended up taking a lot longer, basically just because I had the time."

The Shepherd's Dog Tracklist:

01 Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car
02 White Tooth Man
03 Lovesong of the Buzzard
04 Carousel
05 House by the Sea
06 Innocent Bones
07 Wolves (Song of the Shepherd's Dog)
08 Resurrection Fern
09 Boy With a Coin
10 The Devil Never Sleeps
11 Peace Beneath the City
12 Flightless Bird, American Mouth

Iron and Wine MP3s:
jesus the mexican boy
lion's mane
naked as we came
southern anthem

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