Around the Well

Iron and Wine (Sub Pop)

B-side and oddity collections are often full of bizarre outtakes suitable only for obsessed fans. But Sam Beam's (AKA Iron and Wine) Around the Well defies the usual dictum, because his off-album contributions don't steer far away from the softly sung, gently picked stylings of his own material. Especially lovely are his interpretations of other artists' songs, namely New Order's "Love Vigilantes" and the Ben Gibbard-penned Postal Service number "Such Great Heights." While the material on these two discs isn't presented chronologically, it's a fairly comprehensive overview of how Beam's sound and songwriting have matured over the past decade.

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