Sound — 9
Beauty, it seems, can come in the simplest of forms. Everyones favourite one man army, Sam Beam, aka Iron & Wine, knows this. He has created a masterpiece "difficult second album" while staying nicely in his comfort zone, which, turns out, is highly effective. He has written 12 more acoustic gems, some of which can be boring, but the majority of which can soothe even the angriest of minds.
Lyrics — 9
Sam Beam is a very modest genius. He writes these simple, formulaic songs that you'd expect wouldn't work for any normal singer songwriter, and pulls them off with grace. His lyrics rely heavily on metaphors (and good ones too) but often cover the simplest of subjects. The pretty little stories that he weaves blend perfectly with the soft fingerpicked guitar and his angelic, soft voice. don't be fooled by the album's slightly repetetive opener "On Your Wings", a song which in my opinion drags on a little too much. Luckily it's followed up by an album highlight, "Naked As We Came". This bouncy little track, for me, set the standard of what I like Iron & Wine songs to sound like- happy. On the nearly six minute long "Cinder and Smoke", it seems forced. It could've been a good song, had it only been 3 or 4 minutes long, but Sam seems insistant on dragging it on, and on, and on. Other highlights for me include "Each Coming Night" and "Passing Afternoon."
Overall Impression — 10
All in all, I love this album. It is the most relaxing thing to listen to, and Sam Beam's beautiful tales have the abilty to transport you to wherever he chooses to set them. Bar tracks 1 and 3, the album has a very optimistic sound to it. The heavily metaphorical lyrics leave a lot to the imagination, further enabling to you to be transported away as you try and figure them out. Most importantly, this album evokes feeling, isn't that what music is about?