Iron & Wine singer-songwriter Sam Beam is a breeze throughout the seasons. For more than a decade, his sound has wistfully danced through somber winters to the thawing afternoons of spring — at the core of his sound’s evolution lies the wind’s intrinsic trait: persistence.
“These are a bit more introspective songs, so I thought it should be a bit quieter and, y’know, let the words have a little more space to speak,” Beam says of his most recent album, Beast Epic (2017). “In the last one, I was more into what a larger statement could make, the words that I was writing.”
As he grows, so do the scenes he paints with his lyrics — lush, emotional words that rest delicately or dance restlessly with his classically guitar-driven melodies.
Before being a household name to modern indie-rock fans, Beam was a film professor in Miami, father to a litter that now numbers five daughters, a painter and a bearded guy who sang songs in his room in his downtime.
“Whenever I’m in doubt and I’m not sure which way to go, I just ask the beard and it’ll let me know in its own way,” he jests. “It’s not really a spoken language, but it does let me know.”
When Beam and his beard were approached in the early 2000s by the Sub Pop label, his scruffy superpowers must have been tingling. In the wake of his 2002 album The Creek Drank the Cradle, Beam’s songwriting tendencies were uprooted from a life of privacy and thrown to the winds of success.
Ten years later, Beam has cranked out eight albums with smooth-as-honey melodies, subtle explorations in synths and vocals like freshly churned butter. Pick any album from the lot and it becomes evident that music is written in his bones.
“I’ve already walked the yellow brick road, I’ve already met the good witch and the bad witch, I’ve done the dance with the dwarves,” he says. “The yellow brick road just keeps going — I’m just curious as to what’s around the bend, what’s over the hill. I’m just curious to see what happens.”
Iron & Wine and John Moreland play 7pm Thursday, Oct. 19, at McDonald Theater; $27.50-$31 adv., $36 day of, tickets at mcdonaldtheatre.com.