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Musical Pairings: Iron & Wine (paired with skillet chanterelle mushrooms and potatoes)

Today’s recipe is an adaptation of one of Kasey’s mom’s recipes. Earthy, forest-y sauteed chanterelle mushrooms are added to sauteed onions and lightly crisped fingerling potatoes. It is simple, but delicious and hearty. Similarly, Iron & Wine’s 2002 debut album, The Creek Drank The Cradle, is earthy and musically simple. The album is written, recorded and performed entirely by Sam Beam. Musically, it features nothing more than Beam’s soft, woodsy vocals; his gentle acoustic guitar strumming; and the occasional slide guitar or banjo plucking. It is intimate, emotionally evocative and hands down one of the top debut albums of the entire decade.

The Creek Drank The Cradle unfolds with a crisp, beautiful acoustic guitar melody that gently bobs forward accompanied by an accenting slide guitar before the song concludes with sharp banjo plucking on the stunningly lovely opener, “Lion’s Mane.” The closing banjo rhythm on “Lion’s Mane” is one example of what keeps the album so compelling: not only is Beam’s voice warm and intimate, but the compositions are multi-layered but thoughtfully sparse without being unnecessarily thrifty. Beam clearly knows when to add that final touch to a cut to keep it interesting. Evidence of this gift can be found on every portion of this album. The short chugging rhythm and Beam’s soothing vocal melodies on “Upwards Over the Mountain” are complimented by soft, muffled hand-claps at the beginning and end of the song, but deftly jettisoned in the middle portion of the tune. Of course, Beam’s voice itself is one of the album’s best selling points. Beam’s falsetto is at peak form on the rolling, grassy “Southern Anthem.” Every song on this album is breathtaking. The vinyl release rewards record collectors with a bonus 7″ that includes two fantastic b-sides. Get it at Insound or Amazon.

Iron & Wine – Upward Over The Mountain
Iron & Wine – Dead Man’s Will (Live at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival 10/5/2008)

Head back to eating/sf to read the recipe for skillet chanterelle mushrooms and potatoes.

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Posted by Matthew Hickey

Matthew is the music editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. He’s addicted to vinyl records, pour over coffee, craft beer, small batch bourbon, and pan roasting pork chops.

  • Anonymous

    Do you have permission to post these entire tracks for free like this? You could very well continue doing such nice reviews, without posting *entire* tracks, but posting clips instead, and still get your point across. Unless these are tracks that you found Samuel Beam had posted *free on his own* official website, then actions like this only make it more difficult for people like me to ensure I'll be able to find his stuff on the shelves when he decides to keep recording in the future. Please do his fans (at least me) a favor and replace these with just-clips of the songs. Heck, if you want you could even link to Amazon's page to show their clips (with a referral, sign up for some pay-per-click deal with Amazon) – that way *you* make money from Amazon, while *not* having to kill Sam Beam's business and hurt his fans.

  • Matthew

    Hi Anonymous, thanks for the comment! I'll try to pull the curtain back and answer your question the best I can. As to the majority of the tracks on the blog I either have permission personally, believe permission has been granted generally, or the tracks appear on free mixtapes/downloads. For example, a number of labels and artists use PR companies to promote their albums. These PR companies (and many artists and labels themselves) contact me directly to try to urge me to promote their artists and will specify which song I can share on the blog (we'll refer to this as the "single" like on the radio). In other words, in these cases – permission has been directly granted. I'd estimate that well over 50% of the artists covered on here fall into that category. Other times I will post live recordings or remixes that I understand have permission generally granted (although not to me specifically). For example, artists (including Sam Beam) have previously given permission to his fans generally to share live bootlegs (see http://www.passingafternoon.com re: Iron & Wine or archive.org re: Spoon for another example). I presume that permission does not extend to live recordings later released for profit (such as the wonderful live recordings Iron & Wine releases through Played Last Night), and I will not share those files. But, such as the Bluegrass festival recording that I made (and is not available for purchase anywhere), I believe that the permission Sam previously gave to his fans would include these tracks. These tracks with DJ remixes and mixtapes make up most of the remaining tracks on the blog. A much smaller portion of my MP3s tend to fall into the category of albums that the label is often no longer actively promoting. Getting in touch with the label directly can be difficult. In these cases I try to figure out which track was the "single" that was made available to share. To do this, I normally review band websites and music blog aggregators to figure out which track is widely shared from an album. If a track has been shared freely on a number of other blogs for a long period of time, I presume that track is the "single" from that album. I'll admit, it isn't perfect, but my experience is that when I do post a track that the artist doesn't want me to share, I am contacted (either directly or indirectly through my file hosting service or blogger) by the artist, their label or their representative and asked to remove the song. I have and will continue to always honor any requests to remove MP3s/reviews/or even any mention of an artist if the request is brought by the artist, their label or another representative.Aside from that, I'd like to believe that I am doing the opposite of taking food off of Sam Beam's table. I am a huge Iron & Wine fan, and I like to think that a person or two (or more!) may go out and pick up an Iron & Wine CD/LP or go to an Iron & Wine concert (where many artists make most of their money) after listening to an MP3 on here and reading my review. I hope that answers your question. Thanks for reading!

  • Anonymous

    thanks for clarifying!

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