The one-off Iron and Wine collaboration with Calexico seems to have made a big impression on Sam Beam, and he's taken 2005's In The Reins EP as a jumping-off point for the grander orchestrations of The Shepherd's Dog.
But in pursuing a bigger, fuller and more accessible sound that might spring Iron and Wine from the folk section, Beam has managed to maintain some of the intimate charm of his home recordings by cleverly trading a conventional trap drum kit for hand percussion. It works wonders to make an elaborate production seem smaller and more organic while strengthening the music's rhythmic component.
In the process, he's artfully sneaked in some pop-style sweetening - cooing harmony vocals, keyboard fills, overdubbed effects - without the effort coming off like a totally contrived mainstream makeover aimed at increasing album sales to something approaching the Shins' numbers. It just might work.
Iron and Wine waltz into the Danforth Music Hall Tuesday (September 25).