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CD Review: Iron and Wine

Around the Well ( Sub Pop)


Iron and Wine's Sam Beam has an uncanny ability to pack his albums with quietly powerful love songs — the kind that give you the urge to sprawl out on the couch with a cup of tea in one hand and a sappy novel in the other. The Austin-based musician got his break after covering the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" on the Garden State soundtrack. That track and 22 other rare and previously unreleased tunes make up Around the Well. Raw home recordings fill the first half of the two-disc set, while the second half includes studio cuts with other musicians. Around the Well puts covers of New Order's "Love Vigilantes" and the Flaming Lips' "Waitin' for a Superman" next to songs Beam wrote for the movie In Good Company and "Peng! 33," a gorgeous sample of wall-of-sound vocals atop simple acoustic and slide guitar. The collection provides an intimate look into Beam's bare-bones songwriting: It's a treat to hear the tape hiss beneath his lo-fi recordings (forget you, ProTools). Around the Well is a must for dedicated Iron and Wine fans. But casual listeners might want to start with one of Beam's more cohesive albums. — Danielle Sills

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