Iron & Wine's "Beast Epic" is on Sub Pop Records.

Iron & Wine's "Beast Epic" is on Sub Pop Records. Credit: Sub Pop


“Beast Epic”

BOTTOM LINE Complicated, poetic thoughts told in deceptively simple acoustic rock.

Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam could actually sum up his current writing approach with his new song, “Bitter Truth.”

“Some call it talking blues,” he sings in his characteristically warm tone, over a spare bed of acoustic guitars. “Some call it bitter truth. Some call it getting even in a song.”

For “Beast Epic” (Sub Pop), Iron & Wine’s first new album in four years, Beam looks at adulthood from a variety of perspectives — some poetic, some straightforward, some loving, some slightly sarcastic.

Though he has used this confessional, mostly acoustic approach before, this set of songs is much warmer than his earlier work. “Call It Dreaming” is a string of sweet, comforting images, while “About a Bruise” is more impressionistic, though the soothing tone of Beam’s voice remains consistent.

“Thomas County Law” shows how potent that combination can be, much in the same way that the pretty harmonies of Simon & Garfunkel could still pack an emotional wallop.

“Beast Epic” shows how much Beam’s powers of observation have grown over the years and how they enrich even his simplest of songs.

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