Initial pressings of OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS comes with a 4-song bonus CD.
Iron & Wine: Sam Beam, Sara Beam, Patrick McKinney, Jeff McGriff, EJ Holowicki, Jonathan Bradley.
Recorded at Engine Deck Studios, Chicago, Illinois in 2003.
While Sam Beam's self-recorded first outing as Iron & Wine, THE CREEK DRANK THE CRADLE, features a hushed bedroom atmosphere, his second full-length album, OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS, invites listeners into a slightly larger living room. Here there's enough space for an outside producer (Brian Deck) and additional musicians (including Sam's sister Sara on harmony vocals). Though Beam's musical palette has broadened to occasionally include drums, bass, and various stringed instruments, the spare, Southern Gothic tone remains intact, thanks to his distinctive, whispered vocals and literate lyrics.
The album opener, "On Your Wings," slowly builds from acoustic- and slide-guitar lines before fading back into its own dreamy oblivion. On "Cinder and Smoke," Beam quietly observes that "the farmhouse is burning down" over a chanted backdrop, while "Free Until They Cut Me Down" initially sounds like Johnny Cash's bluesy take on Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" until Beam's honeyed voice enters. And although the vocals of Cash and Beam are nearly polar opposites, Beam shares the late Man in Black's penchant for themes of nature, death, and spiritual yearning. A gorgeous collection of rustic songs, OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS furthers Beam's songwriting without sacrificing its intimacy.
Spin (4/04, pp.89-91) - "[T]he songs unfold like hopeful prayers before the musicians launch them skyward....He writes with the self-confidence of a man at peace with his gauzy gifts." - Grade: A
Uncut (5/04, p.106) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[Beam is a] quietly compelling songwriter, one whose shyness complements his music rather than undermines it."
Magnet (p.67) - Ranked #11 in Magnet's "The 20 Best Albums Of 2004" - "Sam Beam's voice never rises above a hushed whisper, an his fingerpicked acoustic guitar unfurls like time-lapse photography."
CMJ (3/15/04, p.4) - "ENDLESS flows mellifluously with sparkling, fingerpicked acoustic guitars and thick vocals."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.93) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[A]n extended treatise on human mortality and the inevitable passing of time - glowering existentialism glimpsed through sweet, Southern fecundity....Contrastingly life-affirming."