Review: Iron and Wine – Archive Series Volume No. 1

If you spent this Valentine’s Day alone and want to feel sorry for yourself “Archive Series Vol. 1” just may be the pity party soundtrack you’ve been looking for. This album of wonderfully depressing guitar ballads is a collection of abandoned tapes, home demos, covers and live sets recorded by the fantastically talented Sam Beam, perhaps better known as Iron and Wine. A good listen with a nice pair of headphones, a blanket and a cup of tea (and perhaps a box of tissues) is sure either to tug nicely on your heartstrings or put you into a deep, contented sleep.

From beginning to end, the pace of the album pretty much stays the same. Each song is unique and special, but in more subtle ways that may be harder to pick up on if you listen to it cover-to-cover. “Archive Series” may quickly be leading the race in the “Sleepiest Albums of 2015” competition. There is no doubting that this is a great collection of songs. The songs that Beam has left to rest in “closets and shoeboxes,” as the promotional blurb put it, are better than songs a lot of other singer/songwriters have released.

“Eden,” “Two Hungry Blackbirds” and “Freckled Girl” are a great back-to-back listen. All of these songs would sound great while lying under the sun in a backyard — or perhaps sitting inside, looking out the icy window on a freezing winter day. Or anywhere, really, any minute you have some downtime. They sound like taking a breath of fresh air and a sip of water after a hard day’s work.

For Iron and Wine fans, this album will be a great addition to your collection. For new listeners, you may not want to start with these songs, per se — unless you want to cry. A lot. And then sleep. Which you may. It’s cool. Do you.