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01Albuquerque

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Songs We Love: Iron & Wine, 'Albuquerque'

Songs We Love: Iron & Wine, 'Albuquerque'

01Albuquerque

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    Song
    Albuquerque
    Album
    Archive Series Volume No. 2
    Artist
    Iron & Wine
    Label
    Black Cricket Recording Co.
    Released
    2015

    Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Sam Beam, who's been making music as Iron & Wine for over a decade, releases Archive Series Volume No. 2 Oct. 16. Craig Kief/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Craig Kief/Courtesy of the artist

Sam Beam, who's been making music as Iron & Wine for over a decade, releases Archive Series Volume No. 2 Oct. 16.

Craig Kief/Courtesy of the artist

Digging into a musician's early, unreleased material is a little like looking at a loved one's old family photos—if you're lucky, you gain a greater understanding of the person in the pictures. Such is the case of Iron & Wine fans that explore Sam Beam's Archive Series of DIY recordings, a glimpse of his initial steps as a recording artist. Like the series' first installment, Vol. 2 predates the release of the Iron & Wine debut, 2002's The Creek Drank the Cradle. But instead of another album of rarities, there's only a single 7", featuring a pair of cover tunes. The A-side offers Beam's version of a muted, moody Neil Young deep cut, "Albuquerque," which originally appeared on 1975's Tonight's the Night. It's a loner's ode to dislocation, full of wanderlust and alienation in equal measure, and narrated by a man who has "been starving to be alone, independent from the scene that I've known."

When Young sang it, amid the soft but stalwart company of Ben Keith's pedal steel and Nils Lofgren's piano, it sounded like the musing of a man considering flight from familiar surroundings. But on Beam's rough-hewn home recording, it feels like he's already on the journey, trying to quietly convince himself he made the right move. With only the steady thump of his acoustic guitar and a ghostly banjo to accompany his trademark murmur, Beam comes off even more remote than Young. You might fear something sinister was about to unfold if the song's final verse didn't reveal that the singer's most pressing agenda item to be "fried eggs and country ham."

Archive Series Volume No. 2 also features a cover of The Four Tops "It's the Same Old Song"; it is out Oct. 16 on Black Cricket Recording Co.

Purchase Featured Music

Archive Series Volume No. 2

Purchase Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
Archive Series Volume No. 2
Artist
Iron & Wine
Label
Black Cricket Recording Co.
Released
2015

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

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