Since 2002, Sam Beam--better known as Iron and Wine--has made a name for himself crafting mellow, light-hearted folk pop. Beam's third full-length, The Shepherd's Dog, continues the trend.
The songs most readily associated with Iron and Wine have been those used in films, a cover of the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" in Garden State and a trio of songs on the In Good Company soundtrack. Thankfully enough, Beam hasn't allowed the increased exposure to pigeon-hole him into making a particular kind of song. Rather than create an album full of similar-sounding songs, Beam has instilled a great deal of variety into The Shepherd's Dog, mixing up tempo and instruments. Songs like "White Tooth Man" and "House by the Sea" are given room to breathe, providing opportunities for the instrumentals to take hold. Arguably the album's strongest song, the single "Boy with a Coin," is placed well into the album, all-but-forcing the listener to search for it. Thankfully, the search itself is pleasant.
Five years and three albums after his debut, Iron and Wine is well-established. His fans know what to expect with one of his albums, an array of well-composed, relaxing folk pop. Those who enjoyed his previous efforts will likely enjoy The Shepherd's Dog. It's often said that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but this dog is talented enough that nobody would really want to.