Iron and Wine – The Creek Drank the Cradle

Iron and Wine
The Creek Drank the Cradle

One of the best things that can happen to a music fan is to discover a new artist who appears from nowhere to deliver an album so strong and pertinent that though it’s unlike anything they’ve heard before, it feels at the same time somehow familiar, like something they’ve already loved, or have been waiting on for years. Thankfully, The Creek Drank the Cradle,” the debut album from Iron & Wine (the pen name for one Sam Beam), could prove to be just such an album for a lot of listeners.
Combining country-blues and traditional folk music with a splash of lo-fi indie appeal, the sound of the album doesn’t stray too far from ground already covered by other singer-songwriters such as David Pajo (Papa M), or maybe Lou Barlow’s solo work. Add to the recipe some soft, delicate, Yo La Tengo-style vocal lines overtop the moody fingerpicking and 12-string slide guitar, and it’s easy to understand why the individual song elements might feel well-worn territory.
Yet though it is not overtly innovative in its instrumentation or approach, The Creek Drank the Cradle is composed and performed with such an inclusive, intimate voice that the album is extremely accessible, even personal. It is one of those albums that seems to carry with it a complex personality all its own, one that after just a first listen makes you feel privileged to have made its acquaintance. The lyrics match the music’s texture by being intelligent and poetic without being pretentious or overbearing. They’re often visual and consistently evocative, sketching out characters and feelings by describing the things around them.
Another contributing factor to the vulnerability present on the record is the way in which it was conceived. The liner notes read: “All songs written, performed, recorded, and produced at home by Samuel Beam.” It’s an album made by one person in his home . . . It’s hard to image music made more intimately, and it shows.
How Sub Pop found Mr. Beam is another story altogether. But they and everyone else should be happy that they did.