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Studio Milwaukee Session: Sam Beam of Iron & Wine

Jen Ellis

Friday is not usually the day to try wrapping your brain around twisty concepts. But if that was the trade-off for welcoming Sam Beam of Iron & Wine for a Studio Milwaukee Session, we were glad to make it.

The intellectual calisthenics came courtesy of the album Beam released at the end of April, Light Verse. We’ll start with the simple stuff, though: The record is as good as it was eagerly anticipated. It had been nearly seven years between Iron & Wine releases, and this one really hit home with people — perhaps because of the contradictions it presents.

Look at the reviews and analysis of Light Verse, and that “both things can be true” nature becomes clear fast. “Positive nihilism” (WXPN). “Lively and relatively breezy, despite the melancholy subject matter” (Pitchfork). More than a few places used the word “playful,” which might not be the first adjective that jumps to mind about Iron & Wine. It is, however, an accurate description of Friday’s session.

Beam was in town to kick off his project’s two-month tour of North America and was in fine spirits from the get-go. Whether it was catching a couple not-so-radio-friendly words while performing “All in Good Time” or marveling at the typically off-the-beaten-path questions from 88Nine’s Dori Zori, the entire session was littered with laughter — both from Beam and the overflow audience in our performance space.

Then there’s the music. As wonderful as it sounds on the record, Beam’s voice shines in a live setting, and it rang out crisp and clear while still exuding warmth (contradictions galore).

This is the kind of session that’ll send you into your weekend — or, honestly, whatever you’re about to get into depending on when you find this — with just the right feeling. Dive in using the player at the top of the page, and be in the room for our next Studio Milwaukee Session by becoming a member today.

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Set list

  1. “All in Good Time”
  2. “Sweet Talk”
  3. “Anyone’s Game”
  4. “Cutting It Close” (non-broadcast performance)