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Iron and Wine in Concert

Iron and Wine's new CD is <em>The Shepherd's Dog</em>.
Iron and Wine's new CD is The Shepherd's Dog.

When soft became the new loud in indie circles a few years ago, Iron and Wine quickly stepped ahead of the pack as the most arresting of the whispery new-folk artists. Led by the gentle-voiced Sam Beam, the group makes morose and mysterious music, with impressively layered harmonies and the barest instrumentation. Hear the band in a full concert, recorded live from Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club, on Sept. 29.

Iron and Wine is on tour in support of its new CD, The Shepherd's Dog, a significant departure from the group's previous work. The cozy creakiness of such earlier albums as The Creek Drank the Cradle and Our Endless Numbered Days has been replaced by much denser studio production. It's a forgivable evolution in Beam's move from scratchy home recordings to a larger stage.

The newer songs of Iron and Wine are still steeped in southern lore with brooding tales of love, violence, infidelity and religion. But The Shepherd's Dog largely abandons Iron and Wine's more traditional acoustic folk sound for a surprising mix of worldly beats, blues and psychedelic rock.

Sam Beam started out as a film instructor in the late '90s in Miami, Fla. He wrote and recorded songs in his spare time and started getting attention when his basement tapes found their way to the indie label Sub Pop. In 2002, Sub Pop released 12 of Beam's songs on a collection titled The Creek Drank the Cradle. It was followed by 2004's Our Endless Numbered Days, as well as the Woman King EP and a collaboration with Calexico titled In the Reins.

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