At the heart of Iron and Wine is a 38-year-old singer-songwriter from South Carolina named Sam Beam, but Beam's new sixth album, Ghost on Ghost, is his most lavish full-band production yet. Back in 2002, the first Iron and Wine album essentially consisted of stripped-down demos, released as-is. In the spareness of those early recordings, Beam used only what he had available to him: a guitar, a banjo and a 4-track tape recorder.
Sam Beam, better known by his stage name Iron and Wine, released his first album, The Creek Drank The Cradle, on the Sub Pop label back in 2002. He wrote, performed, recorded and produced every track by himself at a studio in his home.
When it first made a name for itself nine years ago, Iron and Wine was just another way of saying "Sam Beam" — as in, the majestically bearded bedroom folksinger whose stark, fatalistic musings were offset by soft-voiced, solo-acoustic arrangements. These days, Iron and Wine is a full band whose sound is elastic enough to feature guitar solos, backup singers and even a saxophone.