Iron & Wine
Woman King


4.0
excellent

Review

by Caleb McAlpine USER (109 Reviews)
January 1st, 2010 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sam Beam takes natural steps forward and completes his artistic evolution (so far)

Amongst a slur of slide guitars and tribal percussion, Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) wastes no time expressing his artistic evolution on Woman King. The first drawling sounds and harmonies of the title (and opening) track introduce a side of Sam Beam that was hinted at in Our Endless Numbered Days, but never fully realized. Quite simply, Woman King introduces a folk entrepreneur that has risen far past being solely a terrific songwriter with a bedroom microphone - within the six songs of the EP, Beam has certifiably evolved into a lyrical and musical genius. Utilizing elements of traditional folk, bluegrass and even world music, Woman King expands on Beam’s earlier work tenfold and establishes Iron & Wine’s position amongst the innovative trailblazers of modern folk music.

In what is arguably the EP’s best track, highlight song ‘Freedom Hangs Like Heaven’ is a more than decent representation of the evolution Sam Beam has undertook since The Creek Drank the Candle. Much like Beam’s earlier ‘Free Until They Cut Me Down’ (only even more awesome), the song features a bluesy guitar line that subtly introduces the song’s barroom mot*f, as Beam’s harmonies spiral through a maze of terrific lyrics, slide guitar and banjo leads. The weird thing, though, is that ‘Freedom Hangs Like Heaven’ sounds a lot like a ‘Free Until They Cut Me Down’ in its approach. In fact, when you really analyze Woman King and Our Endless Numbered Days side by side, they are very, very similar: ‘Jezebel’ and ‘My Lady’s House’ are more expansive, tranquil reinterpretations of songs like ‘Love and Some Verses’, while tunes like ‘On Your Wings’ find new life in the exotic title track and ‘Gray Stables’. But don’t get me wrong, Woman King is not Beam plagiarizing himself. The simple fact is, every song on Woman King is a literal expansion and reimagining of Beam’s regular schtick; each track on this EP is physical evidence of musical evolution. Yet not only is the EP an “improvement” when compared to his back catalogue, the collection of songs showcased here all stand well on their own when compared to Beam’s by now lesser contemporaries - the bar hasn’t just been raised for Beam, it’s been raised for everybody.

So, it all boils down to Beam’s brilliance as a musician. He comes into his own as a songwriter and as a multi-instrumentalist tenfold on Woman King while remaining true to his roots and his future all at once - a perfect role model of musical evolution. Those still in your basement bedrooms churning out Sufjan Stevens covers, do take notes.



Recent reviews by this author
Anberlin LowbornThe Oh Hellos Through The Deep, Dark Valley
Dan Mangan Oh FortuneThe Decemberists Long Live the King
The Reign Of Kindo Rhythm, Chord & MelodyAntoine Dufour Convergences
user ratings (187)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Glitterati (4.5)
...

FA (4)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Waior
January 1st 2010


11454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have a denver layover, just wanted to quickly write something about something I love. I think it's adequate.

...-ish.

Douglas
January 1st 2010


9118 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Looks like one of my reviews haha

Definitely reads better though, nice work.

Digging: The Preatures - Blue Planet Eyes

Waior
January 1st 2010


11454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you, sir.

Oh and happy new years, Sputnik. I got trampled by thousands of Torontonians in Nathan Phillips
Square last night. Ugghhh.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
January 1st 2010


17222 Comments


Jezebel is my favorite Iron and Wine song.
better than my new years. I spent it vomiting.

Douglas
January 1st 2010


9118 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Saaaaame

Waior
January 1st 2010


11454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

To each their own. On the train ride home, there were a couple that couldn't quite contain
themselves, per sé, so I did get the opportunity to navigate myself through the clam chowder.

TheEnforcer
January 1st 2010


270 Comments


Great review. pos'd

Waior
January 2nd 2010


11454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Glad you liked it.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
January 2nd 2010


23909 Comments


Shit review. pos'd

Just kidding (not about the pos), I'm so funny.

edit: why do you fly so GD much? It seems like every review you've ever written was during a layover.



Digging: RATKING - So It Goes

Waior
January 2nd 2010


11454 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have connections with people all over lé continent. I have never paid for a flight myself though, that's the awesome part. Generous people make generous flights possible!

tombits
January 2nd 2010


3470 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Probably my least favourite release by him... still pretty great though.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
January 2nd 2010


23909 Comments


People are paying you to fly around North America to hang out? You must be really good in social situations or something.

DeafMetal
January 9th 2010


8588 Comments


great review fantastic release

YouAreMySilence
January 9th 2010


3727 Comments


Well I spent my new years in an emergency room.
Acually the countdown was spent with me in the waiting room.
Haven't heard this yet, but downloading now.
Plus Caleb you'd be glad to hear I downloaded the whole Decemberists discography and making my way through it.

NeutralThunder12
September 15th 2010


8742 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

this bearded fucker really knows how to write sweet melodies

East Hastings
August 19th 2012


4391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

got this LP sent to me on accident, its not bad

DeafMetal
August 20th 2012


8588 Comments


not at all

ExcentrifugalForz
September 2nd 2012


1756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This has always my favorite iron & wine even though its an EP, and I love how Beam finally uses a little electric guitar on the last song. Plus Jezebel might be his best song ever.

Alkemest
October 18th 2014


159 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sooo good! I wish I still had a hard copy of this, but idk where it ran off too. Freedom Hangs Like Heaven is super fun to play.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy