on September 14, 2004
I listen to this EP like it's my job. I don't remember bedtime without it. It fits the mood, it spends time with you, it calms your frazzled nerves and lets you know that everything will be okay again. It is an essential in your collection of mellow music. It is what downtempo was meant to be. It is literate, wise, simple, and, most important in the sparse-music genre, it is complete.
on November 7, 2003
As the springboard for the Seattle movement of the early `90s, Sup Pop Records has long been viewed as purveyors of all things lo-fi and hi-volume. Lately, however, they've been recruiting a roster of more diverse acts. Sam Beam, the one-man show known as Iron & Wine, is a brilliant example.
The Sea & the Rhythm is a five-song E.P. of songs that didn't fit on Beam's debut album The Creek Drank the Cradle. While these songs were recorded in Beam's own house, the sounds-in all their acoustic glory-share an overwhelming outdoor feeling. The guitar strumming, banjo picking, and mandolin lines decorating this disc would be right at home on the front porch, around the campfire, or on a breezy summer morning at the beach.
The real magic on this disc, however, comes from the mouth of Beam himself, both in terms of lyrics and delivery. His voice simply whispers, at times approaching a Neil Young quality, only better; and Beam's lyrics are pure magic. I've not heard more poetic lyrics from any artist in the last 15 years. If you're a listener who's more into words than the music, you've got a new reason to be happy.
"Jesus the Mexican Boy" is a standout track on the first listen. It tells the tale of unconditional friendship between a narrator and Jesus, the Mexican boy. They grow up together and their friendship holds true through the eloping of the narrator and Jesus' sister. For a listen, you can download the mp3 at subpop.com.
Although the whole disc clocks in at just 21:21, you'll want to listen to three times in a row each time you throw it in the player. It's just that good.
on June 24, 2004
First of all, I do not understand how some of the other reviewers could say that "Jesus, the Mexican boy" is a bad song. I guess it's just a taste thing, but I think it's one of the strongest on this EP. Sure it's not a song that's gonna "raise the roof" but that's not why I listen to Iron and Wine to begin with. The song is a beautiful poetic parable about his friendship with Jesus, the Mexican boy, and how he betrayed Jesus, but was forgiven. And as for the reviewer that called this album "JUNK," well, to be honest, that makes me sad. Sad that this person just doesn't get it.
Now that my temporary rant is over, I'll accually talk about the EP as a whole. When I bought this EP, I was hesitant at first, because it was only five songs, but I bought it anyway. That night I was up late framing some paintings and I just put it on loop and played it for about 5 hours. Now you'd think I'd get tired of the same five songs for five hours, but I didn't. Actually, I bought this before I had ever heard "The Creek Drank the Cradle," and I thought, "if this is what they left off of the first one, I've got to hear it." I was not disappointed at all, and haven't been by "Our Endless Numbered Days" either. I would recommend that anyone who is into layed back, beautiful, poetic, acoustic music buy all of Iron and Wine's albums. You will not be disappointed. However, if you are someone who absolutely adores what you hear on pop radio and on vh1, maybe you're not up to it. And for the record, I only gave it four stars because lately I've been saving my five stars for completely ground breaking, "change my life" sort of albums.
on October 16, 2003
An EP well-worth shelling out for.
Is Sam Beam the new Nick Drake? These five songs are just as beautiful as the ones that made 'The Creek Drank The Cradle'. I love the quiet intensity of his voice, the perfect rhythm of the twin-tracked acoustic guitars and the truly unique ring of his lyrics.
If you liked his debut this one is definitely worth shelling out for. If you feel like digging into some soft, well written music then come get some.
on February 15, 2004
Length - 21:16
The brilliant Floridian Sam Beam, aka Iron and Wine, had displayed his lush, porchlight lullabies magnificently on Iron and Wine's debut, The Creek Drank the Cradle. The Sea and the Rhythm divagates through the same wayworn roads, but with an augmented sense of wistfulness and desolation. Another reviewer propounded that this EP will make listeners who are more concerned with lyrics very happy. The lyrics are, without a doubt, indelibly beautiful; but depreciating the music by sparing it a mention lucidly personifies ignorance. The delicate acoustics are as much a part of the poetry as the words themselves. Without the lilting glow of a banjo and a guitar, seemingly strummed by divine fingers, Jesus the Mexican Boy and Someday the Waves would be nothing more than average ballads. The Night Descending, for example, offers such pensive lines as "Met a man with missing fingers/Shaking hands with shaded strangers/Far too strong to pacify you/Ain't no telling what they're up to", but conflated with the hokey, O Brother Where Art Thou?-ish country jangle, a lackluster track is rendered. Thankfully that is the only number with parts not adding up to a cohesive whole (hence my rating of 4 stars, 4 exceptional pieces). The opening duo of songs that I've yet to mention are both very well done. The mysterious opener Beneath the Balcony foreshadows the dense lyrical tapestry that is woven in somber stitching through the course of the EP. The eponymously titled second number is a sultry love song in the purest sense..."Our hands they seek the end of afternoon/My hands believe and move over you". All in all, The Sea & the Rhythm airily transcends its earthly figures of 21 minutes and 9 dollars in a meek, self-effacing manner. Not monetarily, but soulfully, it shares a brief composition that will pull at your heartstrings and leave you wondering, how can a man come to create such music?
on February 25, 2004
This EP is absolutely brilliant. Beam maintains the same sound of his full length, with a new message. As his LP was filled with songs about a fallout with hs religious upbringing, The Sea and the Rhythm seems to be regaining those beliefs seen most clearly on 'Jesus the Mexican Boy'. The highlight here is the title track, a descriptive narrative about making love in the lyrical vein of Neutral Milk Hotel. Buy this EP if you had more than a passing interest in 'The Creek.'
on May 28, 2004
I'm with a couple of the other reviewers about "Jesus the Mexican Boy," which is overlong and wouldn't be all that good even if a couple of verses had gotten lopped off. The first, second, and last songs are gorgeous. though, and the third song is fun ... Hardly "junk" like an apparently deaf customer called it, this EP is definitely worth it if you're a big fan, but the uninitiated would be better off starting with one of the full-length LP's.
on November 9, 2012
Sam Beam also know as Iron & Wine is at his best on this 5 song EP. The songs on The Sea & The Rhythm show just how dynamic an acoustic guitar and quiet melodic tones can be. The title track stands out the most and is one of the most intimate songs I've ever heard, the song instantly illicit's strong emotions and envelops the listener. Each stripted down song is diverse and the whole EP is a treasure.
on October 19, 2005
This is the e.p. for all those who loved Iron and Wine's "The Creek Drank the Cradle," got hooked, and found themselves needing more.
It's got almost an identical sound to that album, same lo-fi recording techniques, same dark-empty-church-in-a-Deep-Southern-forest type feel, but to me it feels even more hopeful, and even more peaceful.
"The Sea And The Rhythm" is a beautiful song of love with hushed vocals that crash quietly like waves over sharp and hidden acoustic guitar. "The Night Descending" has a progressing, chugging feel, "Jesus The Mexican Boy" tells a touching story of a sad friendship, and "Someday The Waves" features what I think are the e.p.'s best lyrics, including the line, "Time like your cheek has turned for me."
For those who loved "The Creek Drank the Cradle" but were disappointed by the slickness of Iron and Wine's more recent recordings, you need this e.p if you don't have it already. Buy it NOW.
on July 31, 2010
Iron & Wine continues to carry on the tradition of elegance and song-craft. If you are fans of Joshua Radin's We Were Here, Christian Floyd's Dreams Into Daylight, William Fitzsimmons' The Sparrow and the Crow, or Peter Bradley Adams' Leavetaking, you will love Iron & Wine.