music your ears want you to listen to

I know. Two in one week. I can hardly stand the excitement and I'm sure you feel the same. But I just had to talk about this album. Iron & Wine's The Shepherd's Dog. Fans, myself oh so much included, have been waiting two long years since Iron & Wine last put out an album, three if you're just counting Iron & Wine solo (because the last one he put out was a collaboration with Calexico titled, In the Reins). And I, for one, hit the download button with much anticipation and hopefulness in my heart on Tuesday.

A lot of detractors are saying that this album blows it big time, but I must vehemently disagree. As I so often do with stupid, stupid music critics. It only takes one listen to tell that Sam has decided that he liked what he started with Woman King and In the Reins, and decided to roll with it. And to much success to my happy little ears.

He's still exploring the same themes: religion, mythology, fables and tales of everyday Americana, he's just doing it with a bigger backing band and a instrumentation that has a world influence. No, it's not Creek Drank the Cradle, redux, but if that's all you wanted, go back and listen to that album. Because I think this one is better. I've been listening to it for two days straight (as anyone who is witness to my I.M. status message can attest) and I'm in love with him all over again. Sam's world-weary voice will always sound the same on any song he sings, but this time he backs it up with sounds from the swamp, the blues of Mississippi and the beats of Africa. A combination that works extremely well in my opinion.

Key tracks: Resurrection Fern, Innocent Bones, White Tooth Man, Carousel, Boy With a Coin

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