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Iron And Wine | The Creek Drank The Cradle (Sub Pop)
I always seem to find myself in a train carriage with someone who has a stentorian voice that obliterates everything else, even the clattering wheels. Soon, the whole train is reduced to a clamour and your screams wouldn't even register. Conversely, there are records that are so quiet that listening to the Kings Of Convenience would cause you to cower and reach for earplugs. Lion's Mane creeps in with all the ferocity of a kitten and twirls around merrily 'til your heart's content. It sets the pattern for the rest of the record, sweet, crepuscular tunes float around, played with the minimum of fuss and instruments, but with enough conviction to last for life.

Lullaby vocals caress the ears as they speak of bittersweet experiences in a world half asleep in a heat haze. Only when The Rooster Moans does the tempo lift, slightly, as the Appalachian twang takes over, only to run out of breath for Upward Over The Mountain and continue with the sighing quiet and even muted handclaps. Like a glorious sunset, the desolation of the
songs is almost lost with the beauty they possess.

You'd like to sing along, but find the lump in your throat stops you. The hidden menace of An Angry Blade lends a touch of Sixteen Horsepower as a grinder wheel scrapes in the background, but there's no rage there, just a hint of malice in the woods somewhere. So, as Muddy Hymnal wanders towards the horizon with its tales of small town life and death, the sun sets on it to take away the warmth. It's a hard album to get under the skin of, but that be because it's so delicate. It's best to just let it float through you and then allow it to go on its own way, unencumbered by the weight of the world.

Laurence Arnold
June-July 2003