It's unfortunate that Iron & Wine—Florida native, former film and cinematography professor, and Austin resident whose real name is Sam Beam, that is—is best recognized for his quiet cover of The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights." His original work tops any cover by far. Not-quite-folk, yet not-quite-rock ’n’ roll, not fully characterizable at all, Beam seems to have accomplished the impossible task of forging his own style. This is especially true of his overwhelmingly lovely late-September release, The Shepherd's Dog. His most recent collection, which is aided by Calexico (á la their 2005 collaborative release In The Reins), hangs on to the absorbing melancholy of Beam's previous recordings, yet twists it into something more mature and slightly happier. Try tracks No. 1, "Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car," and No. 9, "Boy with a Coin" (where flamenco fans may note a nice use of palmas).
Iron & Wine, along with Beam's majestic indie-beard, will perform with Seattle's Arthur & Yu this Sunday, Dec. 9, at The El Rey Theater (622 Central SW).