Customer Reviews

37
4.6 out of 5 stars
Around the Well
Format: Audio CDChange
Price:$11.88 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Here it is, finally! The collection of songs all of us Iron & Wine junkies have been collecting over the years, together in one package at last. Let me be clear though, Around the Well isn't just for the diehard fans. This is as good of an offering as anything Mr. Sam Beam has ever released. The first disc contains a collection of mostly lo-fi covers and singles spanning I&W's lifetime - most of which have popped up in various places in different formats. Very good stuff, but probably more appreciated by the long-time fans. The second disc is what I believe is really going to surprise a lot of people. Except for the epic fan favorite "The Trapeze Swinger" and "Communion Cups and Someone's Coat", this disc contains songs that are completely new to me, and I've been really quite taken at how wonderful they are. The songs "Belated Promise Ring", "God Made The Automobile", "Love Vigilantes", and "Kingdom Of The Animals" are among the best songs I've ever heard from I&W. As a whole I would say the second disc could easily stand by itself against all of his other full length releases. And with the whole collection closing with "The Trapeze Swinger" I really couldn't ask for anything else. Around the Well is simply a great, well put-together collection for anyone who enjoys Iron and Wine and will definitely hold me over until the next new release.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Although it's a collection of miscellaneous material - b-sides, rarities, etc. - this new double-disc set from Sam Beam is also clearly intended to work as an "album" that hangs together just as well as an all-new set of songs would. For me, it does work that way... Forget that this is a bunch of tunes collected from over several years, and listen to it as if it was a "regular" album, and it will stand as a really excellent Iron & Wine production. So far my favorite track is the Flaming Lips cover, "Waitin' For a Superman," which I think improves on the original (hard to do, for me). It's one of four cover tunes on Around the Well (the others being Postal Service, New Order and Stereolab songs). I also really dig the gentle folkish vibe and general ethereal-ness of "God Made the Automobile." Gordon Lightfoot meets Swamp Ghost. And those are just two of more than 20 songs and over 90 minutes of music - I expect I'll be greatly enjoying many of the others too. (A really good price for a 2-CD set, too - thanks Sub Pop!)

My only real frustration with this collection is the minimal liner notes. No individual song performance credits, no historical references (i.e., it would be nice to learn where the b-sides and rarities first appeared) [what're we supposed to do, google the song titles individually, or search the artist's web site?], and lyrics are given only for the songs Sam wrote, not the covers. But that's only a minor drawback from an otherwise topnotch release.
22 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Finally an artist who loves his fans enough to put all this music in one place! This 2 disc set is worth the purchase for all the music you get but it is definitely a must for any Iron and Wine fan. For those of us who have searched for these songs on soundtracks or b-sides on single, this collection is a blessing. Disc one brings the rough charm of the early works like The Sea and the Rhythm and The Creek Drank the Cradle. The disc progresses through Sam's work with new and old personal favorites such as Waiting for Superman, Dearest Forsaken, and Such Great Heights. Disc 2 shows has incredible growth and production without losing the intimate beauty of a live performance. Disc 2 has some of the best songs that always left me wondering why they were never on previous releases. Personal favorites on disc 2 include Communion cups & Someone's Coat, Belated Promise Ring, Kingdom of Animals and the always ALWAYS loved The Trapeze Swinger. Iron and Wine has won me as a fan forever simply for releasing hard to finds and rarities.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2009
Format: Audio CD
This is a wonderful collection of extras and rarities from Sam Beam. The first disc is pleasant and worthwhile, though not nearly as remarkable as either The Creek Drank the Cradle or the accomanying EP The Sea and the Rhythym. It is most notable for the excellent and sublime cover of Flaming Lips' "Waiting for Superman." I suppose they had to include the "Such Great Heights" cover, but it is almost a disappointment to be reminded this is the track for which I&W is best known.

The disc 2 outtakes from the Endless Numbered Days and Shepard's Dog sessions (and film soundtracks) are highlighted by "God Made the Automobile" and "Kingdom of the Animals," exceptional tracks that are as beautiful as anything Beam has previously relased. Other excellent tracks abound on this disc, including the lovely, dark "Carried Home."

Overall, any of the major releases from I&W are probably better starting points, but if you are a fan of the music, this is an essential collection. There is probably one disc's worth of truly excellent material that is on par with the other releases.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
The improbable and unexpected succuss of Iron and Wine's most recent album, 2007's "The Shepherd's Dog", is the culmination of a long steady road upwards. The once-one-man-band behind Sam Beam has achieved major recongition, and more, in the indie-music scene, which lead the band's record label to the vaults for more material to release while we await a proper follow-up to "The Shepherd's Dog".

"Around the Well (2 CDs; 23 tracks; 93 min.) is neatly divided up in two halves: CD 1 (11 tracks; 41 min.) brings tunes from the early days, meaning just Sam Beam and his acoutic guitar, generally songs so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The opener "Dearest Forsaken" is as representative as anyting from this collection. It's good background music when you're reading a book, but to me it doesn't warrant much repeated listening. CD 2 (12 tracks; 52 min.) is much more interesting as it brings latter-days Iron and Wine, meaning Sam with an actual backing band. By far the best tracks on here for me are "Carried Home", with beautiful harmonizing vocals (sort of reminding me of early CS&N), and the 9+ min. epic closer "The Trapeze Swinger".

In all, this is a welcome, if perhaps overlong, addition to the Iran and Wine catalog. I will generally stick to CD 2, but that's just my personal taste. Given the nature of the songs, it's paramount to have the lyrics to follow along, and the booklet indeed does include the lyrics to about 3/4 of the songs. No rhyme or reason why the other songs' lyrics are missing. I saw Iron and Wine in concert at last year's Bonnaroo Music Festival. The band put on a terrific set, focusing primarily on tracks from "The Shepherd's Dog". Seeing the massive attendance for their set just made me wonder how amazing it is that Iron and Wine has become so successful.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
IRON AND WINE's "AROUND THE WELL" is a great hold-me-over, until Sam Bean and co. finishes up his next new album in the studio. This newest release is a collection of B-sides, iTUNES limited edition releases, soundtrack numbers, and limited edition single releases. Even with these odds and ends from I&W's first three "proper" albums, we are nevertheless hearing some of their best songs. The second CD contains the songs from the sessions for OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS, and SHEPHERDS DOG, my personal favorite albums. I bought a couple of I&W singles, just so I could hear these B-sides. Easily one of the best songs they recorded, KINGDOM OF THE ANIMALS, turned up as a B-side on the "BOY WITH A COIN" single. Its about 6 and a half minutes long, with singing on the first 2.45 minutes of the song, tacked to a coda of long, shimmering sonic sheets hammered from glossimer echoes weaving in and out of infinity. In fact, if one constant fact seems to apply the "SPEPHERDS DOG" outtakes, its their experimental, electronic, psychedelic production and overdubs. These songs also include CARRIED HOME (the other B-side from the BOY WITH A COIN single, with lots of great honky-tonk piano playing), SERPENT CHARMER and ARMS OF THE THIEF. Those last two were to be released on a limited edition Single in 2008, to back "LOVESONG OF THE BUZZARD". The release was pulled at the last moment. SERPENT CHARMER is another song, with a lot of squeeky electronica smothered over top, that really satisfies. It merges the "freak folk" style, with a mood that's low key, languid, and dreamy. These songs were pulled from SHEPHERDS DOG, for no reason of quality, but rather cos Sam Bean writes with quality and quanity. Both CDs from AROUND THE WELL, would have been album releases, in a more perfect, 1960s world. The second CD ends with THE TRAPEZE SWINGER, recorded during OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS. (But much more overdubbed than anything you hear on that album.) Like the problem DYLAN had while recording "SAD EYED LADY", how do you keep the audience's attention, while you give a 9 minute long poetry recital? After a few verses, when the guitar-vocal overdubs-bass-hand drum soundscape stops providing enough sonic excitment, the bass player goes nuts and jams out (didnt work) on one verse, with each additional verse attempting something different, like piano overdubbed to resemble a viola/cello repeating figure, then at the song's end, a recorder player add tons of flipped out, atonal squeaks and squaks. That song's orchestration didnt work, but as an experiment, its fine, and no doubt will grow on me. It did work well, to close out the album tho, both because of its lenght, and because it seemed to show a limit to how freakish IRON AND WINE will allow their "freakfolk" to move.

The song COMMUNION CUTS & SOMEONES COAT, (B-side for PASSING AFTERNOON single) is where the break occurs, between the lyrical style of his earlier work which seemed to center more on emotional issues like Family ties, core memories, evocative songs of his past, girlfriends, etc. On IRON AND WINE's second album, their orchestrations filled out considerably. Sam Bean's lyric styles became much more surreal, dealing with spirituality, in a visionary sense with this avant guarde, "beatnik" quality mixed to a "southern USA" lyricism. So naturally, the same sound is found on the outtakes from the second album, on CD two of AROUND THE WELL. Totally great songs, that span a period of transistion between two styles, of CD ONE's pure, dreamy folk music, and the mellow, acoustic freakfolk that opens the second CD of this collection. Each of the songs work well, and the whole second CD hangs together as complete statement, even tho the statement is partily "CAREER RETROSPECTIVE". Many of these songs from the "ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS" sessions, first appeared on rare "VARIOUS ARTIST" complilation, and the others on iTUNES only. I might have liked to see his version of Dylan's "DARK EYES" included on the second CD, if only to balance the four cover songs on the first CD.

The first album is filled with more unknown, rare tracks, except for "SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS", the first song most people heard Sam Bean sing, from the soundtrack to GARDEN STATE. These songs on the first CD are very cohesive in style, even tho Sam Bean plays four covers, including a very muted, ultra sedated sounding version of The Flaming Lip's WAITIN ON A SUPERMAN. (its just so cool tho.) The whole first CD uses finger picked guitar arpeggios, slide guitar, and often a third guitar, and some occasional harmony, to orchestrate the numbers. A lot has been released from IRON AND WINE's early folk period, including the EP "THE SEA & THE RHYTHM", with five songs on it. Combine that with this FIRST CD from AROUND THE WELL, and people who love these early, whispered "love" songs, sung ultra legato, will be happy as cats in catnip. AROUND THE WELL shows the transistions in style, that make each IRON AND WINE album sound as tho they were from different bands. This is a very important band. The fact that a meal made from assorted leftovers, tastes like the most delicious of smorgasborgs, and not a bad pot luck diner, is proof of how much talent exists in this act. I'm glad it's an overview, so those who only appreciate ONE STYLE or THE OTHER STYLE, will get to sample IRON AND WINE in all its stylistic complexity. For the fan base, its just another MUST HAVE release. I'm really excited for the next real release of new songs, instead of this compilation. If his leftovers taste THIS good, i'd love to know whats cooking right now. I guess we're getting that meal for Christmas. For now, I'm totally satisfied with this summer picnic of major and minor I&W masterpieces.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2009
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This is my first experience with the group, Iron and Wine. And I must say it has been a positive one. The blended vocals make for easy listening while most of the songs tell a real story. This group has quickly become one of my favorites among my collection of song writers/singers. The silky smooth and mellow voices are calming and reassuring. And this album is aimed to please most anyone who listens to it. I give it a two thumbs up for content, sound, vocals, and lyrics. Overall, I highly recommend this to folks that are looking for a laid-back collection of songs that are sung almost in Simon & Garfunkle style. The guitar picking is no exception either and the musical ability of this group excels in every way.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Iron & Wine (Sam Beam) has evolved musically since his earnest days as a man with an acoustic guitar that seemed doomed to Nick Drake comparisons. Beam's songwriting has grown up from his humble origins into a touring musician who can be seen frequently on Austin City Limits and other assorted music programs. Heck, a trip to your favorite coffee house / chain bookstore isn't complete without an obligatory playing of his last album, "The Shepherd's Dog." Being a highly caffeinated nerd myself, I have endured or overheard many conversations where certain individuals thought they were listening to a new Van Morrison album.

Following the momentum of that album, Sam Beam has chosen to clear out the attic and comes through with the eventual odds and sods release. "Around the Well" contains a berth of Sam Beam's material that has been collecting dust. Rather than let these songs get moldy, Beam has chosen to free them from his self-imposed exile. Beam's songs range from his earliest sessions from "The Creek Drank The Cradle" to material that was recorded for "The Shepherd's Dog." The problem with odds and sods albums is the varying quality of the material that usually comes out on these things. These albums are usually better suited for the die-hard fan as a souvenir rather than as a comprehensive retrospective that would make sense for new listeners.

On "Around The Well" Iron & Wine, although extremely gifted, is guilty of the crime of chronology, as most of the first side sounds similar. It is interesting to here the clear guitar lines and double-tracked vocals of "Dearest Forsaken" as early evidence of Beam's writing skill however, when you're listening to an album and the first seven tracks are in the same vein, things get monotonous. It's not until the Flaming Lips cover of "Waitin' For A Superman" that a little life is injected into the proceedings. Beam's second cover on the disc the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" is a somber take, which doesn't add much to the original.

The second disc on this compilation is more expansive and closer to the sound that appeared on "The Shepherd's Dog." These songs sound brighter because of the varying palettes Beam used in comparison to the bone-dry intro disc. Highlights include the New Order cover, "Love Vigilantes" and the country rock of "Kingdom of the Animals." Beam closes the proceedings with the epic "The Trapeze Swinger" a fan favorite written for the movie, "In Good Company" that sways with the best of the newer material.

Speaking of new material, Beam includes three more songs from "In Good Company," "Belated Promise Ring," "God Made the Automobile," and "Homeward These Shoes." Of these three tracks, "Belated Promise Ring" drew my attention the most because of its cribbed melody from Johnny Cash's "One on the Right Is on the Left." The rip-off had me a bit miffed, but I got over it just the same but not as easily as I did the actual playlist of the album. Maybe I'm being too picky here but had Beam opted to alternate the new and old, "Around The Well" would be a more satisfying listen. I guess that's what shuffle is for.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2009
Format: Audio CD
What can I say? It's iron and wine, it's awesome and you won't be disappointed. Their music is addicting and now I find myself wanting to listen to them almost exclusively. For those looking for bands with a similar sound that are also good, give Horse Feathers a try.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2009
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I was really impressed w/ this cd, and, although I am a fan of iron and wine, I think that most people w/ an appreciation of creative music and thoughtful lyrics will enjoy this CD. An individual can enjoy this music by both devoting full attention to the music and its lyrics or simply having it on in the background while studying or hanging out with friends, and this goes for most of their work. A couple of other recommendations: m. ward, american analog set, and death cab for cutie.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed

THE SHEPHERD'S DOG [Vinyl]
THE SHEPHERD'S DOG [Vinyl] by Iron & Wine (Vinyl - 2007)

 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.