Essentially the demo versions of Shepherd's Dog, this feels like a personal concert playing in my bedroom. It is stripped completely naked, just Sam and a guitar and it's great to hear these songs like this. There's some serious differences here too. "Boy With A Coin" has an extended vocal section that I've only heard live. "Innocent Bones" has a slightly slower tempo and achieves even more intimacy than the album cut.
The entire thing is so intimate and warm it makes me feel like Sam Beam is hitting on me while I'm sitting in front of a fireplace. He reaches over in between songs and fills my wine glass again. I reconsider my commitment to the heterosexual lifestyle as he winks subtly at me and picks up his guitar.
This brings me straight back to The Creek Drank the Cradle and falling head over heels in love with this mans voice and guitar style. It's not nearly as scratchy as earlier works (let's hear it for the cash of success!) but it still feels like a bedroom album, raw and unapologetically simple. It's good songwriting technique, filling an entire track with voice and guitar and only lending support to the song with other instrumentation.
The collection closes with "Resurrection Fern", my personal favorite track off of Shepherd's Dog and a lullaby of quiet beauty. Revisiting one of my favorite records from 2007 in it's raw state has been a great experience and I look forward to Around The Well, the upcoming collection of rare and unreleased Iron and Wine due on May 19th this year.
Available for free on Iron and Wine's website.
Released today: "The Trapeze Swinger" from the film "In Good Company"