Iron & Wine Our Endless Numbered Days

Eventually, most lo-fi artists, from indie staples like Guided By Voices to esoteric singer-songwriters like John Darnielle, will make the trip into the glamorous world of hi-fi. For some, it permanently changes their sound, often into the deepest pits of excess and superfluity, and yet for others, like Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam, the move merely results in a cleaner sound. Which isn’t to say that he doesn’t sporadically take advantage of the studio setting, like the chiming double-tracked guitar riff that gently pushes "On Your Wings” or the beautiful, chiming slide on "Love And Some Verses.” But what we find on the majority of Beam’s sophomore full-length bears an uncanny resemblance to what constituted his 2002 debut and last year’s Sea and the Rhythm EP: delicate, whispered vocals with a lyrical focus on love and mortality over equally hushed autumnal folk with hints of bluegrass. Though the songwriting isn’t as remarkably consistent as his previous work, fans of Beam’s style will no doubt find a lot to love about Endless Numbered Days, especially career highlights "Each Coming Night,” "Passing Afternoon” and "Sodom, South Georgia.” (Sub Pop)