I’ve been a fan of the understated and lo-fi folk-rock singer-songwriter Sam Beam, aka Iron & Wine, ever since I first heard his 2002 debut album, The Creek Drank the Cradle. He sounded to me, then and now, like a less-nasal Gillian Welch or a kinder and gentler (and in-tune) Will Oldham. Fifteen years later, that short album has the heft of a mission statement. Sure, Beam has dabbled in light pop with 2011’s Kiss Each Other Clean and 2013’s Ghost on Ghost, but he’s mostly maintained a consistent folk style since that first album, notably for his first hit, “Naked as We Came,” from 2004’s Our Endless Numbered Days.
His latest LP, Beast Epic, benefits from lean and well-crafted songwriting and Beam’s melodious, lullaby-like voice. The album is a bit front-loaded, but standout singles—“About a Bruise,” “Thomas County Law,” and “Claim Your Ghost”—make me excited to see him perform it live.
Of the two evening concerts he has scheduled for New York City in November, I’d opt for his gig at midtown Manhattan’s historic Town Hall, featuring the twangy Southern songwriter John Moreland as an opener. It’s likely to be a more intimate and comfortable audience experience. If you’r only free on the 14th, you’ll surely still find some meaningful moments with Beam at the more cavernous Brooklyn Steel concert hall. As a bonus, you’ll get an opening set there from Chicago art-rock duo Ohmme, whose debut single “Woman” brightened my early summer.
Why You Should Go: Beam is a reliably strong live performer with a soothing voice that’ll warm up a chilly November evening.
Iron & Wine at The Town Hall
123 West 43rd Street (between Sixth Avenue and Broadway), Midtown
Monday, November 13
Doors open at 7:30 p.m.; show at 8 p.m.
Tickets start at $39.50
Iron & Wine at Brooklyn Steel
319 Frost Street, Williamsburg
Tuesday, November 14
Doors open at 7 p.m.; show at 8 p.m.
$40 advance; $45 at door
Spend a night listening to Sam Beam; we’re readily available with suggestions to make the most of it.