Iron & Wine’s ‘Archive Series Volume No. 1’ — First Listen

Iron & Wine’s upcoming release, Archive Series Volume No. 1 opens with an eerie ambiance with the whispery, immediately grabbing “Slow Black River.”

What follows is an anthology of thoughtful sketches, each a peek into the psyche of the talented Sam Beam, aka Iron & Wine.

The shadowy vibe continues for the first few songs until we hit “Freckled Girl,” a favorite of mine on the album with a decidedly optimistic tone.

Other favorite tracks include “Sing Song Bird,” which has a decidedly Simon & Garfunkel feel with the addition of banjo, of course, and “Quarters in a Pocket” which includes the lovely line, “time spent with you feels like charcoal sketches for a painting that you won’t let me see.”

And “Your Sly Smile” is just a delightfully detailed outline from a lover’s point of view.

Clearly Iron & Wine knows how to craft smart and thoughtful lyrics and weave them into quietly powerful compositions. This anthology of bare bones arrangements and raw vocals is not the sing-along sort. But rather a muted but deep depiction of this artist’s state of mind.

The collection, due out February 24, is the first in a series of releases pulled from tapes found in the back corners of closets and dusty shoe boxes — long neglected, but never forgotten.

You can hear the debut track from Archive Series Volume No. 1 here:

Sam Beam has been creating music as Iron & Wine for more than a decade, and with the Archive Series, he will be gathering otherwise unreleased home recordings, covers, and live sets, from his entire career and releasing them on his own label, Black Cricket Recording Co.

This first installment of the Archives taps into a set of songs created before Sam was Iron & Wine, when he was making music only to be heard by his family. The songs on Volume No. 1 came to life at the same time as those selected for Iron & Wine's debut album, The Creek Drank The Cradle, an album released by Sub Pop in 2002.

The songs on 'Creek' were only 11 of the many performed and recorded by Sam at home on a 4-track cassette. While some of this material has been widely bootlegged, it has never received a widespread or proper release.

Archive Series Volume No. 1 collects 16 of the unreleased early home recordings and is a perfect reminder of how we all first heard Sam's voice — hushed, yet immediately powerful and vivid.

The first chapter in the Archive Series has been digitally transferred from the original cassettes and packaged in gatefold artwork featuring the Bird of Paradise Quilt (licensed from the American Folk Art Museum). Iron & Wine's Archive Series Volume No. 1 is out February 24th on Black Cricket Recording Co, and available for pre-order now.

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Laura B. Whitmore

Laura B. Whitmore is a music industry marketing veteran, music journalist and editor, writing for, Guitar World, and others. She has interviewed hundreds of musicians and hosts the She Rocks Podcast. As the founder of the Women’s International Music Network, she advocates for women in the music industry and produces the annual She Rocks Awards. She is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Positive Grid, making the world safe for guitar exploration everywhere! A guitarist and singer/songwriter, Laura is currently co-writing an album of pop songs that empower and energize girls.