After a few years flexing different muscles with collaborative records, Sam Beam is back with his own signature hush of thoughtful Iron & Wine folk songs on Beast Epic. Often so dreamy they could put you to sleep, Iron & Wine songs can be enchanting or a snooze, but no matter what, they’re almost always lovely. Beast Epic has that same hazy filter, but with more life injected into it, even at its quietest and slowest. Beam sounds comfortable and at ease, and just the right amount of weathered. Looking past the twee (though beautiful) embroidered album cover, Beast Epic has dimension and feels seasoned.
“Last Night” and “Bitter Truth” are sweeping and melodic, and “Thomas County Law” is the kind of twangy folk Iron & Wine has mastered and does best. “Our Light Miles” closes the record with a more abstract sound and an element of fantasy, as though Beam is a lonesome drifter.
Standout track “Summer Clouds” has M. Ward vibes, as Beam’s husky whisper wonders “where all this love fits in the world?” It’s a heavenly daydream that rolls along just leisurely enough to intrigue you to follow it. It is Beast Epic’s slowest tune, but it’s never lethargic or dull, instead staying whimsical and bright.
That same sense of whimsy is present across the record, and in a more upbeat way on songs like the beautiful album opener “Claim Your Ghost” and the chirpy “Call it Dreaming.” On the latter, Beam sings “Where our water isn’t hidden/We can burn and be forgiven/Where our hands hurt from healing/We can laugh without a reason,” describing a peaceful, loving utopia, and imagining what he’ll leave behind when he dies. It may sound morbid, but it’s so filled with optimism and positivity, it’s hard not to smile when you listen.