Sam Beam’s erstwhile persona Iron & Wine released on of the finest records this year. It was a shocking surprise, since there was no indication leading up to The Shepherd’s Dog that he could pull off something so glorious, a rousing celebration of culture, music and life. Before the record, I woulda placed money that the North Carolina multi-instrument songwriter would eventually pull a Nick Drake (or an Elliott Smith if that helps). Most of his records were dour, somber affairs of Southern Gothic tales and the wispy strums of an acoustic guitar.
Instead, in one fell swoop he crafted a an album that might just be our favorite of the year, one that draws heavily from African rhythms, instruments and themes of life’s cyclical nature. He’s gone out and made a video for the lead single, “Boy With a Coin” and it features lots of flamenco dancers and Sam doing his thing rocking out with his guitar out and teaching these ladies a thing or two about a thing or two.