Iron And Wine “Light Verse”

Bella Union, 2024

An album containing many wonderful and heartfelt moments.

It’s hard to believe that this is Iron And Wine’s first album for seven years, after the Grammy-nominated ‘Beast Epic‘. So has it been worth the wait? It most certainly has. The 10 songs which comprise ‘Light Verse‘ are prime Sam Beam, who adopted the Iron And Wine moniker after seeing a protein supplement for sale in a rural store in southern Georgia. The music is instrumentally inspired, aided and abetted by a 24-piece orchestra on several songs and lyrically majestic on all of them.

Beam has said that he feels that this record should be listened to in its entirety rather than a series of individual tracks. The songs on the album all seem to form part of the same wide screen canvas and without listening to the album in its entirety maybe the whole picture will be missed. ‘You Never Know‘ is a delicate opener which eases the listener into the album. ‘Anyone’s Game‘ has a slight Middle Eastern vibe to it, together with a percussive and bass driven sound.

The centrepiece of this record is ‘All In Good Time‘. It’s a beautiful, string-laden, bittersweet duet with Fiona Apple, of whom Beam says, “Her voice is a miracle that sounds both like a sacrifice and a weapon at the same time”. He’s right, her vocals complement his wonderfully. The song is a rugged description of the ups and downs of a relationship. It reflects on the complexities of love, heartbreak, acceptance, moving on and the ebb and flow of life. Maybe in his middle age Beam is telling us that everything will work out in the end. It’s a fully formed classic.

For many of Beam’s characters relationships don’t seem to end well. ‘Taken By Surprise‘ documents the suddenness of how intimate connections with lovers can begin and end. It leaves the listener feeling that the failure of previous romances has hardened the narrator so that they’re not taken aback anymore when things go wrong. ‘Sweet Talk‘ commences with an upbeat rhythm and lyrics eulogising a ‘wonderful’ life‘, but seems to get darker as the song goes on. ‘Angels Go Home‘ evokes some heavenly images with its lush strings and divine lyrics. It’s an appropriate way to bring proceedings to a close.

In poetry terms ‘Light Verse‘ is often thought to be nonsensical or whimsical. Whilst there may be a few quaint turns of phrases in some of Beam’s lyrics, the album conveys a sense of acknowledgement that although life isn’t perfect, a life well lived can be a precious gift.


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