Album Cover
Iron and Wine
Our Endless Numbered Days
Sub Pop
March 23, 2004


Sam Beam must have been born a bearded baby. His lot was no vaudeville sideshow, though. His is a beard revered as much as a lion's mane or as symbolically appropriate as a prophet's cane. Perhaps, I make too much out of the natural act of chin drapery, but I can't think of any other icon that so perfectly sums up the gist of Iron and Wine, the moniker Sam Beam creates music under. The album art for Our Endless Numbered Days was created by none other than Mr. Beam, himself! The soft colors display a self-portrait of a shut-eyed Beam surrounded in an immersive sea of wavering grasses. The beautiful artwork by the multitalented songwriter is the first of many pleasantries that this album will provide you. So, stop! Put away your chess game, pull the car over and pay attention. I can describe the sounds for you, sure; rootsy Americana that alludes to hail from places with dusty porches, creaky chair-sitters, and over-all clad po' folk. Well, I'm thinking this place doesn't really exist, or if it did, it's not in this era. I've traveled to the South and found there isn't much of the place left that Sam Beam delivers with Our Endless Numbered Days. Or, perhaps there is, but only down the far-flung dirt roads that no trouble-free tourist ever encounters. In which case, Beam acts as our personal tour guide, and an experienced fellow he seems, who has trodden every inch of road, every darkened forest, and every shabby hamlet in the collective Southern human psyche in order to meld his songs from the soul of those lost surroundings.

I'll have to say that Iron and Wine's previous outing, The Creek Drank the Cradle, was a more immediately satisfying listen, but it doesn't take long before Our Endless Numbered Days equals or surpasses the other in strengthening detail. Sam Beam sing-breathes his poetic lyrics much like he did in his last full-length, but instead of looking back on past familial reminisces or despairing tragedies, he mostly offers a narration on the life he's living today. The obvious musical difference between this record and his previous is the occasional addition of backing musicians. It's often a toss-up of whether or not the inclusion of a band will help or hinder the inherent magic in the simplicity of the solo performer. In this case, the additional help never corrupts the minimalist folk ideal and knows when best to leave the duties to the songwriter.

The track "Naked As We Came" displays the archetypal Iron and Wine acoustic anthem, but is too utterly damn romantic to be anything routine, as Beam sings, "one of us will die inside these arms / eyes wide open, naked as we came / one will spread our ashes around the yard." The rest of the album is equally convincing as it ranges from hangmen to love and to everywhere in between. My only real squabble with the album is that no matter how authentic the music, voice and feel is, it is undeniably created by a living post-modern male. One who values women, can speak flowerily about love, and is originally from the burgeoning air-conditioned luau known as Miami. But, as our lives tear down the sepulchers of our fathers, so does music transform apart from the things we try to homage, which makes Sam Beam's Iron and Wine as authentic as it gets.

Jacob Daley

Track List

  1. On Your Wings
  2. Naked As We Came
  3. Cinder And Smoke
  4. Sunset And Soon Forgotten
  5. Teeth In The Grass
  6. Love And Some Verses
  7. Radio War
  8. Each Coming Night
  9. Free Until They Cut Me Down
  10. Fever Dream
  11. Sodom, South Georgie
  12. Passing Afternoon