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Watch: Iron & Wine Returns To Roots On 'Beast Epic,' Out In August

Sam Beam's music career began in 2001 with Iron & Wine's The Creek Drank The Cradle, a collection of barren and intimate solo home recordings. From there, he's added sundry layers to his sound — horns, strings, backup singers — while periodically pausing his solo career to accommodate album-length collaborations with Calexico, Jesca Hoop and Band Of Horses' Ben Bridwell. But on August 25, he downshifts a bit with Beast Epic, a simpler and more stripped-down collection of acoustic folk-pop songs.

That album's first single, "Call It Dreaming," does a sunnily gorgeous job splitting the difference between the spare beauty of Beam's roots and the richer, springier full-bloodedness of later albums. And it's got a video that captures its rambling generosity perfectly.

"I have been and always will be fascinated by the way time asserts itself on our bodies and our hearts," Beam writes in a statement. "The Ferris wheel keeps spinning and we're constantly approaching, leaving or returning to something totally unexpected or startlingly familiar. The rite of passage is an image I've returned to often, because I feel we're all constantly in some stage of transition. Beast Epic is saturated with this idea, but in a different way — simply because each time I return to the theme, I've collected new experiences to draw from. Where the older songs painted a picture of youth moving wide-eyed into adulthood's violent pleasures and disappointments, this collection speaks to the beauty and pain of growing up after you've already grown up. For me, that experience has been more generous in its gifts and darker in its tragedies."

Beast Epic comes out August 25 via Sub Pop. Full track listing below:

1. "Claim Your Ghost"
2. "Thomas County Law"
3. "Bitter Truth"
4. "Song In Stone"
5. "Summer Clouds"
6. "Call It Dreaming"
7. "About A Bruise"
8. "Last Night"
9. "Right For Sky"
10. "The Truest Stars We Know"
11. "Our Light Miles"

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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