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4.3 out of 5 stars12
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 11 April 2004
What a beautiful, beautiful album! It has been quite a while, with the exception of Damien Rice's and Teitur's debuts, than a first CD offered such creative consistency. Sam Beam, the man behind Iron and Wine, has achieved a work of such unassuming depth that is impossible not to grow impatient for a second recording. Song after song, he manages to convey moods that are at once tender and full of existential pain, without ever indulging on the way too common tendency in young songwriters to put music to their private diaries, nor indulging on the kind of over-instrumentation that not-so-young performers indulge in to make up for the lack of richness in their work. I don't think there's a single weak tune here, actually some of his lesser tunes could be the jewels in CDs by most of his contemporaries. To some he might remind you of Will Oldham, a likely mentor, yet his work has already a feel of its own. This Americana stripped from clichés, bringing together longing, sweetness and the lingering sense of someone reflecting on life without a 'an ax to grind' (this is the difference between poetry and a personal journal). I was tempted to name the great songs but after typing the name of the first four, and realizing that the fifth song will be next, I deleted them. Every song is worthwhile, and adds to the hue of emotions he's so able to articulate. In some ways, it is my opinion, he may remind you of Nick Drake, in his capacity to write of sadness so beautifully that it can almost embrace you, like joy.
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on 10 February 2003
Interestingly, Sub Pop seem to be reinventing themselves from label of all things grunge-rock to a new, mellow, "two guitars on the front porch " affair. But then, Sub Pop were always one step head of the game. This collection of songs by Sam Beam consists of stripped down, acoustic guitar affairs, with slide guitar and banjo making an appearance to add extra layers of mystery. It's a million miles away from the noisy excesses of grunge, and very special.
Beam sings laconically, as though he's half asleep, in a voice reminiscent of the more fragile moments from Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse. In fact, these songs would have slotted seamlessly onto the more lo-fi moments of 'Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot,' Sparklehorse's excellent first album. No drums, just guitar and hushed vocals. Some strange magic is at work here - this is excellent, intimate stuff, transporting you to a mythical part of America in the same way as Gillian Welch's 'Time (The Revelator)' - timeless, haunting, and magical. Beam crafts songs that dig at the twisted heart of middle America; disturbing, but wonderfully well-drawn portraits of small-town life. This will be up there in the "2003 album of the year" stakes for sure.
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on 17 February 2003
Hot on the heels of Bonnie Prince Billy's "Master and Everyone" comes an album with titles like "the Rooster Moans" and "Muddy Hymnal", lovingly packaged with intimate etchings and lyrics such as "We found your name across the chapel door/carved in cursive with a table fork". Fans might be forgiven for thinking that, only seven weeks into the year, "The Creek and the Cradle" is the best Will Oldham tribute album of 2003.
Those fans would be wrong. One man band Sam Beam sings in a much more British manner and a number of the songs call to mind Belle and Sebastian rather than any of the current crop of alt country troubadours. While Beam's voice is as engaging as Stuart Murdoch's the sometimes fey delivery undermines the biblical imagery of "Just like the way that you ran to wine/when they made the new milk turn/Jesus, a friend in the better times" and makes "Southern Anthem" anything but anthemic.
However, several songs, embellished with banjo and what sounds on occasions like pedal steel guitar, are more American and, to my ears at least, all the stronger for it. Elsewhere the plucking guitar sound of "Faded from the Winter" is reminscent of "5 Leaves Left" era Nick Drake, topped off with gorgeous vocals.
While the album is much more instantaneous than the writing of Mark Linus, Will Odham, Kurt Wagner et al, the downside is that Beam has created a less individual and strong sound. That said, the overall strength of the set dispels any questions as to the viability of acoustic guitar music in 2003 and the album's immediacy might well lead Iron & Wine to greater commercial success than any of the other artists to whom they have been compared. All in all a delightful discovery.
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'The Creek Drank The Cradle' is the sweet, melodic album written, performed, produced and recorded at home by Sam Beam. One reviewer here gave this CD a low star rating (which is entirely his prerogative) because of the poor recording quality, but I tend to feel that this element actually adds to the album. The raw, stripped back nature of the recording compliments the songs perfectly. The feel of one man and his guitar, sat in his living room, is completely captivating. The songs are spare and yet hold you spellbound throughout. A simple, beautiful album that is great to sit back to and let your cares slip away. Highly recommended. If you like this, check out 'The Pull' by Kreg Viesselman, another beautiful album of a similar ilk.

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on 22 August 2005
This album starts off a lot like you'd want an album to begin when you either have a severe hangover or have an ear ache from the noise pollution that can some times be called new wave indie (franz and the like)
The first track 'lions mane' is a slow kinda sombre piece that also oozes in charm. The whole album runs like a chilled beach soundtrack (if you like jack johnson, and kings of convienience then jump for joy)
Iron and wine have a few albums out now plus the new EP 'woman king'
BUY thiS AlBuM
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on 7 January 2005
Iron & Wine sounds a bit like the kings of convenience, but oh, is it even better? Yes, actually quite a bit. Anyway, I love this album; it is quiet and calm, and brilliant songwriting. Get it for the winter; and get James Yourkston while you are at it!
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on 3 July 2013
This is a great album and possibly his musical peak for me personally I love how raw and imperfect it is, full of soul... ahh real music!
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on 21 October 2015
Only Three stars from me But i constantly listen to all my albums and my opinions changing I Really think people should come back to their reviews as taste changes. My problem with this is anorak with me, really Im a hi fi fanatic and the sound of this album sounds Distant, like a home recording I think The sound will grow on me. The songs To me yet are not so strong as Our Endless Numbered Days. But i am going to give it a good listen. Then come back to my review.
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on 8 February 2012
For those wanting the cabin-dwelling Iron & Wine, this is certainly the album for you. The production isn't as slick as in his later albums, but that only serves to add to the atmosphere. Some of the songs can come off as twee and sugar-coated, but it's worth remembering that this album is 10 years old now; it predates the new wave of candy-box folk by a few years.

Beam's whispered vocals may grate on some ears but if you're a fan of simple, calm, one-man-and-his-beard music then give this album a go, I'm sure you'll fall in love.
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on 6 July 2007
I bought this on the back of having heard (and really liked) some Iron and Wine songs in films, etc. Had this album been my first exposure, I would have been put off for good.

It was apparently recorded in a "home studio" and the sound quality is little short of appalling. Noisy, with poor EQ and mixing, it sounds as though it was recorded straight to cassette tape in some one's bedroom, using cheap instruments that have never seen new strings. The voice is too far back in the mix and the sotto voce singing style begins to grate after about 30 seconds.

It is a testament to the song-writing that I will probably seek out more recent, studio-quality recordings. However, this is one to miss unless you are a die-hard fan or want a complete collection of Iron and Wine.
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