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Musical Pairings: Iron & Wine – Shepherd's Dog (paired with pumpkin tea cake)

Iron & Wine‘s The Shepherd’s Dog is a beautiful and warm album; perfect for a relaxing afternoon or quiet evening. The Shepherd’s Dog is Iron & Wine’s most lush, full-bodied album to date. Whereas his early demos and debut album, The Creek That Drank the Cradle, were sparse featuring little more than Sam Beam’s plaintive, intimate lyrics and resonate acoustic guitar; The Shepherd’s Dog features a full band and layered, intricate musical compositions that borrow from a diverse array of genres. Importantly, what remains constant is Beam’s wistful, autumnal songwriting, and as a result this is a perfect album to pair with the pumpkin tea cake recipe Kasey prepared as dessert for a mid-October picnic and wine-tasting in Healdsburg, California.

The opening track, “Pagan Angel with a Borrowed Car,” features a twangy guitar line and sparse, drumstick-against-the-rim rhythm. It’s possibly the most traditional Sam Beam-esque track on the entire album, but compared to his previous oeuvre, it is pretty slick and grooving. The track “Carousel” is hauntingly sweet and emotive: the melody sounds distant and ruminative like music from an old music box, and Beam’s vocals sound ghostly when he sings: “Almost home / when I missed the bottom stair / you were braiding your gray hair / it’d grown so long / since I’d been gone.” A spectral intro opens into “The House By The Sea,” a lush track which demonstrates a skittish, mystic quality to Beam’s song writing. “Boy With a Coin” is the album’s first single and has a restless, dreamy guitar highlighted by thumping percussion and a persistent hand-clap accompaniment. “Peace Beneath The City” feels like the listless soundtrack to a long drive down a desert highway at dusk. Beam & Co. save one of the album’s strongest and most beautiful cuts for last, as the album ends with the sparkling and warm track “Flightless Bird, American Mouth.” Pick it up at Insound.

Iron & Wine – Flightless Bird, American Mouth
Iron & Wine – Boy With A Coin (Fall 2007 alternate version)
Iron & Wine – The Same Old Song (The Four Tops Cover)

Head back to eating/sf to read the recipe for this delicious pumpkin tea cake.

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