Album Review: Iron & Wine – Beast Epic

Over the years, Sam Beam has experimented with various musical styles beyond his breathy, unrefined folk, and this time around, Iron & Wine releases Beast Epic, a collection of idyllic folk-pop tunes all with a common thread of rustic, earthy textures. Beast Epic, though more buoyant compared to Iron & Wine’s first few records, does draw a few parallels to their earlier acoustic pieces we fell in love with – perhaps it’s just the holistic, heartfelt simplicity of it all. Sam Beam’s voice is especially crisp in this album, adding a genuine sweetness to each song.

Call It Dreaming is a serendipitous, yet tranquil song, a perfect representation of Beast Epic‘s sonic direction. A song that sticks out among the rest is Summer Clouds. What Sam Beam has always been so incredible at is making the simplest of songs quietly grandiose through these gorgeous melodies. Summer Clouds proves that a good song doesn’t need all the frills, glitz, and glamour, because a beautiful harmony can resonate with your soul just as strongly. Last Night is an endearing song with playful guitar picking, the quirky string instrumental even giving a hint of Andrew Bird’s unique style. Our Light Mile is a lovely end piece, soothing and gentle.

At the end of the day, Beast Epic is a charming, enjoyable album — an easy listen and all around relatable album. Though some songs on Beast Epic are unfortunately forgettable, there are some special ones that are positively worth a listen, and there is no doubt that this album will play out beautifully live. But no matter what motivations, emotions or sounds drive these records, we can always rely on Sam Beam’s beautiful storytelling, which is really what authentic folk music is about.

Julia Kwan