Iron & Wine
Our Endless Numbered Days


4.5
superb

Review

by Tyler Fisher EMERITUS
June 30th, 2006 | 56 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist


The folk genre of music is quite possibly the most relaxing genre of music ever created. Sure, Bob Dylan had some pretty lively songs, but folk contains simple instrumentation, usually a guitar and simple percussive instrument, along with a singer, weaving a story about life, love, or anything that comes to their mind. It is hard to be considered a bad musician in the folk genre. Iron and Wine, a one man project of Sam Beam, is another great folk musician. Sam Beam uses Iron and Wine as a side project to his university teachings in Florida.

Iron and Wine usually consists of only Sam Beam, either on guitar or banjo and using his delicate voice to sing. Occasionally, in the background, there is a shaker or other simple percussive instrument to keep the feel of the song in tact and a bass to accompany Sam. Sam will often track a few guitar voices to add some variety to his tracks. Sometimes he'll track a guitar and a banjo. His guitar playing is nothing to marvel at, and his voice is aesthetically pleasing but nothing spectacular. His ability to write lyrics with great metaphors is what stands out in his project. With lyrics such as "I want your flowers like a baby wants God's love, or maybe as sure as tomorrow will come," Sam Beam creates stories and messages to convey with his hobby, something I'm sure he never planned to get so much publicity.

The first stand out on the album comes early, the second track of Naked as We Came. This song is only one guitar voice and Sam. The guitar strumming pattern is a pretty simple pattern, with two main variants on the theme. A woman joins him to harmonize with his voice by the second chorus. The song is short, 2:32, a good length for Sam's style of writing. The song doesn't bore and get too long. The song talks about birth and death, how they are the same, we come with nothing and leave with nothing.

However, the next song, Cinders and Smoke, shows the faults of Sam Beam, and his tendency to go on with the same pattern and bore the listener to death. Cinders and Smoke is guitar, a faint shaker, and some sort of conga-like instrument. By the chorus, a bass joins in to reinforce the guitar line. This is a great song for about 3 and a half minutes, but then for 2 minutes, you hear the same guitar line, the same two chords being harmonized by Sam's multi-tracked voice, and the same accent beats by the percussion. An annoying arpeggiated voice adds in after one time through the harmonization, but then that goes on for the rest of the song. Little things add in here and there, such as banjo strums, but it isn't enough to divert your attention from the annoying arpeggiated voice and vocal harmonies.

Two songs later, Teeth in the Grass, the first banjo driven song appears. The banjo adds a whole different "twang" to the feel of the song. The song follows a nice format, a short finishing with the repeated line "There will be teeth in the grass," followed by a short instrumental interlude. The tune and feel of the song is extremely catchy. The song goes through the style 3 times, then finishes. Again, this is a good length for an Iron and Wine song. This song is another song comparing life and death. "Teeth in the grass" is a metaphor for death, tombstones standing out like teeth in the grass.

After a few typical (and good) Iron and Wine songs, we reach Free until They Cut Me Down. It starts with a driving guitar line (think Tush by ZZ Top bassline), and a faint drum kit comes in, snare accenting on the rim. Sam harmonizes his regular voice with a falsetto voice above. Halfway through the song, there is a banjo solo, and then the drums pick up the energy by playing louder and playing more fills. This song is a longer one, but only because the two sections are longer than a normal section on this album. Free until They Reach Me is a standout on the album.

The closer, Passing Afternoon, closes being one of the saddest sounding songs on the album. Sam plays more strummed chords than guitar lines. Piano joins in for the song, accenting the chord changes. The song, 4 minutes long, follows the same chord pattern, but still, the pattern is a long pattern and doesn't get repetitive. Passing Afternoon plays beautifully, the most relaxing song on the album. Just as most of the album, this song comes to the realization that death is inevitable, and there's nothing people can do to stop death. Passing Afternoon goes into how people fear death and fear forgetting and being forgotten.

Sam Beam creates a relaxing, thoughtful, and all in all great album with Endless Numbered Days. Despite some songs only having one guitar line throughout, this album makes for perfect music to sit down, close your eyes, and let your mind wander to wherever it wants to go. This album is for anyone with a heartbeat and a soul.

Recommended Tracks:
Naked As We Came
Teeth in the Grass
Free Until They Cut Me Down
Passing Afternoon



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Comments:Add a Comment 
The Jungler
June 30th 2006


4827 Comments


Your getting good at this.
I love Iron and Wine despite my lack of purchased media. I'll probably buy a CD pretty soon, then I'll see him at Lollapalooza.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
June 30th 2006


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I actually don't think I've topped my Stix review yet. This is third, in my opinion.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
June 30th 2006


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I guess no one cares enough about Iron and Wine to comment.

Zebra
Moderator
June 30th 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This album is quite stale and dull, sure it's relaxing but the late night atmosphere isn't as apparent on here as it is on The Creek Drank the Cradle. Quality review, you did a good job.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
June 30th 2006


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I wouldn't know, this is the only Iron and Wine I have.

Cygnus Inter Anates
June 30th 2006


721 Comments


He looks like Rick Rubin on the artist page.

Good review.

Dancin' Man
June 30th 2006


719 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm with Zebra except that I love listening to this album, even though I like the others better. Especially the Woman King EP.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
June 30th 2006


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'll have to get some more Iron and Wine I suppose. I just went with this because it had the highest average user rating. Then I saw it didn't have a review, so I did it.This Message Edited On 06.30.06

La Revolucion
June 30th 2006


1060 Comments


I like this album. Good review.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
July 14th 2006


17942 Comments


Hmm, I thought I commented this. Oh well, another good one.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
July 14th 2006


17942 Comments


[Quote=review]Bob Dylan[/QUOTE]

Dylan reference, ftw.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
July 14th 2006


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I took me a while to find that...

Muisee
August 4th 2006


679 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A great album by a oh so talented guy. Good review.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
August 4th 2006


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wow, an Iron and Wine review with 6 pos's. Thanks Muisee.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
January 23rd 2007


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this CD is fantastic, it took a while to grow on me, but I really love it now.

MrKite
February 15th 2007


5020 Comments


Fever Dream is a really nice song. I might just buy this this weekend.

Two-Headed Boy
March 15th 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

3/5 for me. It's very contrived, but good.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
March 15th 2007


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I don't like this as much as I did. This is one of my first reviews, wow.

trustxdialect
March 15th 2007


1502 Comments


I still can't get enough of Naked As We Came. Iron and Wine is masterful.

FriendofTheDevil70
June 30th 2007


384 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love this album. So relaxing, but still making you listen at the same time. Sam Beam will go down as one of the best songwriters of the 21st century.



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