I'm returning to 2007 to see how my Best Albums of 2007 list has fared this year before tackling the best of 2008.
My review from the tinyblog:
If folk music has a future, this is it. Here's a guy pulling together the history of country music, indie music, rock music and folk music. What he makes doesn't sound futuristic, it sounds like American music at it's best. I could still be listening to this album when I'm sixty.
Sam Beam has a beautiful voice, I'll give him that. I was never so impressed by him before, as it sounded like just another pretty voiced folk music guy. It really takes more than that to impress me. M. Ward did it last year with Post-War, winning me over with his sheer brilliant songwriting and explosively pretty guitar interludes. This year Sam Beam is the man to win me over, but for different reasons.
First of all, this is not just a guy with a guitar. This is an incredibly rich and harmonious instrumentation: organs, steel guitars, an amazing mix of different percussion elements, and even a few electronic sounds thrown in there. But, it doesn't jar, and the whole album has a rich, unified sound. When I close my eyes and listen to this album it's like a golden grahams commercial, with pouring streams of honey colliding mid-air with tiny crunchy graham crackers. This is not a gimmick, this is a serious album. Whatever he was going for sonically, he nailed it on every track.
Next, this is some real, mature songwriting. You want to impress me? Write a song called Resurrection Fern and don't make it painfully obvious.
If you like your music straight-up beautiful and that's your highest ethic, then this album would have been #1 for you this year.
My Sweet Snob Commentary, a year later:
I sent the song Lovesong of the Buzzard to a friend in a mix CD and she said, "If I were stranded on a desert island with only that song, I'd be happy with that."
It's true, this is an album you can listen to a lot, and I don't know if I've found the bottom of its well of beauty. It's at once serene and exciting.
Sam Beam's sweet whispery voice goes down easy, sure, but this album alternately coos and clatters and he leaves little treasures in every song.
Lovesong of the Buzzard (I probably would pick a different song if I only had one, myself):[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/03-lovesong-of-the-buzzard.mp3]
House by the Sea:[audio:http://thesweetsnob.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/05-house-by-the-sea.mp3]