Before taking up the moniker of Iron & Wine, Sam Beam was recording a number of simple tracks that never made it onto his debut album The Creek Drank The Cradle. Now, he's releasing those tracks in what he's dubbing the Archive Series and the latest track is a cover of Neil Young's "Albuquerque."
Earlier this year he released Archive Series Volume No. 1, a collection 16 songs recorded before that Iron & Wine debut. The songs are spare, even more so than the minimalist folk musician usually is, which is saying a lot. These recovered songs are a refreshing hark back to the introspective, harsh take on human nature that first connected Beam with his fans.
In recent years, he's worked more on expanding those early sounds by bringing in a full band, playing with experimental jazz arrangements with large horn sections all wrapped in the soft, tender voice he's always brought to the music. I thought 2013's Ghost on Ghost was some of his best work to date, but others have yearned for a return to the simple folk songs of old. Well, now they're getting it.
Archives Series Volume No. 2 is a simple 2-track, 7-inch release not nearly as large as Volume No. 1. NPR is streaming side A of the new release now, which is the deep cut Neil Young tune "Albuquerque," which you can listen to below.
Beam had yet another release earlier this year, Sing Into My Mouth, a cover album alongside Ben Birdwell. The two tackle stripped down folk versions of songs by artists including Bonnie Raitt, JJ Cale, Marshall Tucker Band, David Gilmoure, The Talking Heads and more. Cover albums are almost never ground breaking material, so it's not surprising that this quiet release didn't receive much attention critically or commercially, but for Iron & Wine fans, it's definitely worth a listen.
Listen to Neil Young's original version of "Albuquerque" below.