Iron and Wine, 'Around the Well' (Sub Pop)

Critical Mass
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by Barry Walters

These days everyone seems to need a hippie-folk Mister Rogers to tuck them in. Sam Beam's breathy croon is as soothing as a lullaby, but just as limited -- which becomes an issue over two discs and 23 songs. Yet that very sameness helps this patchwork of singles, soundtrack cuts, and unreleased tracks cohere. His covers of Flaming Lips, the Postal Service, and Stereolab trump his own tunes, but the rendition of"Love Vigilantes" beats them all, by bringing to the surface New Order's inner Johnny Cash.

Listen: Iron and Wine, "The Trapeze Swinger" (DOWNLOAD MP3)

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