KEXP at SXSW 2013, Day 2: Iron & Wine

photos by Dave Lichterman

Iron and Wine, the music project of singer/songwriter Samuel Beam, delivers simple, folk ballads that evoke powerful complex emotions. With each album Beam seems to be reinventing himself; from the minimalistic, soulful melodies of The Creek Drank the Cradle and Our Endless Numbered Days to the more instrumental and festive The Shepherd’s Dog. In the past Beam has been known for his subtle, whispered lyrics and mellow acoustic guitar that, but now he has transcended into a burgeoning rock band. We covered his amazing performance at Sasquatch! in 2011 and we knew he would only amplify this year’s SXSW experience – he mixed old favorites, selected by hollering audience members, with new songs that reflected the depth with he has grown as a storyteller songwriter.

During his set at Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop in Austin for our broadcast at SXSW, Beam took stage, bearded and quiet, calm and mellow, to a crowd who had waited over an hour and was more than ready to become completely hushed as he made his way through the distant emotional and literal territory of his songs. Opening with material from his fifth studio album, Ghost on Ghost, he segued into “Jesus the Mexican Boy” with the quiet comment that “I was up very late last night, so this is going to sound like that.” Despite whatever tiredness he was feeling his voice swells and dimmed at all the right moments – chills ran through audience members as he sang through old favorites “Woman King” and “Lion’s Den.” And if you didn’t come to hear those tracks – new pieces such as “Winter Prayer” demonstrated that Beam is far more than simply a folky singer songwriter, he is a full blown story teller.

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