It was only a few years ago that Iron & Wine the nom de folk of fantastically bearded, South Carolina-bred bard Sam Beam emerged like a gorgeous, haunting dream; campfire-at-dusk acoustic guitar and just a trace of drums, banjo, or pedal steel mingling with Beam's whispery voice (incessantly compared to Nick Drake) in songs that meditated on love, faith, and death with a decidedly Southern Gothic flair. Since then, his hushed delivery hasn't changed that much over a handful of full-lengths and EPs, but Beam's musical terrain has grown more luxuriant and variegated with each release. I&W's most recent, The Shepherd's Dog, is particularly rich, with an orchestra of electric guitar, organ, accordion, and insistent percussion swathing his evocative vocals in songs that sometimes find a strangely bouncy groove or even rock out. Yet even as the band's sound grows bigger and more ambitious, it still retains that special, spectral moodiness and intimacy, ensuring that Beam and company remain as arresting as always.
Sat., July 12, 8:20 p.m., 2008