Hippy folk music to build a heart in Bellingen
Another recent purchase and post. This album by Iron & Wine was released in January this year, 2011. I’ve been saving this review to coincide with my niece’s, Alex, wedding to David in Bellingen, NSW. This one was to be a bit contrived, but messy life got in the way.
Being released from hospital a week before the wedding, (see the last review and comment on heart issues) I hadn’t the stamina to last through the entire wedding. Apparently Myocarditis and Pericarditis takes more out of you than you imagine, or maybe it was the drugs. Saw the ceremony and missed the toasts and speeches. The road to the wedding is a long, narrow and winding road, occasionally a dirt road. In preparation a dozen different road signs were strategically placed. Signs signifying Speed Humps, Falling Rocks, and Cupids with arrows were placed to both guide you and prepare you that this would not be your normal white meringue wedding. This was a wedding where the groom sang a Flight of the Concords song to the bride, the decorations and maids dresses were created by the family, and the invitations and table settings were based on Mill and Boon romances. All a lot of work, this was a wedding of passion and commitment.
Iron and Wine is basically an uncool hippy-looking dude by the name of Sam Beam. His beard would not be out of place in Bellingen. He is also a man of passion and commitment. This is his fourth album and my first listen to him. He reminds me a little of John Martyn, but with two legs and not dead. He didn’t start into the music business until he was 28, previous career was Professor of Film and Cinematography at Miami University. He has also found time to father five daughter with his wife, Kim. He is not your regular rock star.
The songs are catchy and melodic, songs of love lost and love found, good and evil, love and death. Song-writing is his strength. This is modern folk music with interesting, extraneous noises, much in the fashion that Wilco applied to country music. Being a folkie at heart, Iron & Wine uses more restraint than Wilco.
This isn’t a perfect album. The songs appear to have all washed up on a shore, with little connection to each other. Sometimes the instrumentation grates, saxophones tend to intrude and gamelans and flutes appear in places you don’t expect. It is a little unfocused. I’ve read reviews that compare this album to areas as diverse as an indie Fleetwood Mac, Sufjan Stevens, Pink Floyd, Flaming Lips and Charles Mingus’s ‘Haitian Fight Song’. Maybe he’s just a modern folk singer/songwriter who’s difficult to pin down.
We had a week in Urunga / Bellingen / Nambucca, catching up with family and friend, but mostly I was being quiet and recuperating. Apart from the wedding, the best times were a Prawns and Oysters dinner with old friends, and long walks along the long Urunga boardwalk. This album was perfect for both of those.
And, of course it was with a heavy heart that we returned to Sydney.
If you want to sample the work of Iron & Wine prior to purchasing, visit his website and see what you think.