Iron & Wine
The Shepherd's Dog


4.5
superb

Review

by Andrew H. EMERITUS
September 25th, 2007 | 87 replies | 25,199 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Proof that Sam Beam is a genius and not just some guy who made a great album in his bedroom.

The last time we heard from Iron and Wine in the LP format was in 2004, with the second album for Sam Beam and friends, Our Endless Numbered Days. That's not to say that they haven't been busy in those three years. In fact, Beam and co have released no less than three EPs since 2004, most notably Woman King and the Calexico collaboration, In the Reins. With each release, listeners have seen Beam's recordings gradually evolve from the humble bedroom recordings of The Creek Drank the Cradle. The Shepherd's Dog continues Iron and Wine's foray into full-band mode in every imaginable way; by adopting a diverse and eclectic approach to songwriting, incorporating a wide variety of instruments, adding smooth transitions between songs, giving the record a gorgeous, lush production effort and so on. However, the core of Iron and Wine is clearly still Sam Beam; his songwriting, hushed vocals and simple guitar work.

With the band's new approach to instrumentation also comes a new approach to songwriting, with Beam writing in less traditional pop song structures and moving towards more through-composed ideas. Sonically, The Shepherd's Dog is a much more percussive album, based far more on rhythm than either of the band's previous LPs. The bouncy opener "Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car" focuses on an upbeat rhythm as its center while its followers "White Tooth Man" and "Lovesong of the Buzzard" are thick, almost tribal pieces. Certainly though, tracks such as the gorgeous "Carousel" (complete with rotary-style vocal effects) deviate from this template. Closer "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" makes use of waltz rhythms while "House By the Sea" takes the band into dreamlike territory with delayed loops and atmospheric keyboard sounds. Beam's lyrics come forward with their usual amount of rich imagery and are perfectly suited to the music he is creating.

The lyrics booklet that accompanies The Shepherd's Dog is designed in such a way that perfectly reflects the music contained on the disc. When held from afar, the lyrics simply look like a large (poster sized) jumbled mess; but closer examination is soon rewarding. In much the same way, the music contained on The Shepherd's Dog is layered and seemingly messy at first, especially compared to the immediacy of earlier work. For anyone willing to give it a fair shot, however, it's hard to imagine the album being a disappointment. Once and for all, The Shepherd's Dog proves that Beam is worthy of the attention that he is given and actually a brilliant musical mind rather than some guy who got lucky enough to make a great album in his bedroom.

Recommended Tracks
Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car
Carousel
Boy With a Coin



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user ratings (597)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Jom
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2007



2634 Comments


Three of my friends, all with diverging personalities, adore Iron and Wine. I dig a couple songs, but I won't go out of my way searching for a stream or anything. Masterful review, though.This Message Edited On 09.25.07

plane
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2007



6085 Comments


Great review. Everytime I tried loading this up on Myspace it wouldn't work. I'll probably just buy it since I like Iron and Wine.

blackmilk
September 25th 2007



584 Comments


i dont drink sorry

timmy99
September 25th 2007



15 Comments


"it proved that Sofia Coppola is actually a genius and not some girl who happened to make a really good film"

br3ad_man
Emeritus
September 25th 2007



2125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yep.

ohcleverhansyou
September 26th 2007



885 Comments


Iron and Wine seems really interesting, but...I'm scared.

Neoteric
September 26th 2007



3243 Comments


Very well done review.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
September 26th 2007



4926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm sure this is awesome, but he is too fucking boring sometimes to care about anymore.

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

CatfishJones
September 26th 2007



24 Comments


i'm getting this ASAP. great review.

JAD
September 26th 2007



200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I was going to review this, but yours is better than mine would be. This album is mind bogglingly good.

FriendofTheDevil70
September 26th 2007



384 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review. This is an excellent album. In a year of numerous dissapointments, this definetly lived up to my expectations.

The Jungler
September 26th 2007



4827 Comments


I kinda like what I've heard from Iron and Wine, so I might get some of his earlier stuff. If it's any good I'll definitley be coming back for this. Good review, as always.

Neoteric
September 26th 2007



3243 Comments


I like this a lot.

tom79
September 26th 2007



3363 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like Our Endless Numbers Days, so I'll check this out sometime. Nice review.

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

Two-Headed Boy
September 26th 2007



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

His first two albums have been growing on me like mad, so I'll check this out.

Broken Arrow
September 26th 2007



220 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This reminded me of Woman King EP which is a good thing.

Skyler
September 26th 2007



1084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album is pretty god damn good.

Fort23
September 26th 2007



2474 Comments


I just listened to a couple of tracks, and I got to say, it looks like it could be one the best of the year.

obese_breasts
September 26th 2007



7 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

If you think he's boring this album will change your mind, I love it.

plane
Staff Reviewer
September 26th 2007



6085 Comments


This album is really awesome.



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