On May 7th, 2021, Sub Pop will release Tallahassee; Archive Series Volume no. 5, the lost-in-time debut album from Iron & Wine. A collection of songs recorded over a two-year (1998-99) window during which Iron & Wine's Sam Beam attended Florida State University's College of Motion Picture Arts. Three years later, Iron & Wine would issue The Creek Drank the Cradle and begin a run of records widely praised as being part of a new blueprint in the singer-songwriter genre.
Tallahassee doesn't attempt to re-write history but instead aims to document the very first steps in Beam's journey to becoming one of America's most original and distinctive artists.
The eleven-song collection was culled from a number of recordings that had been (mostly) forgotten by Beam himself but had been preserved by former roommate and one-time Iron & Wine member, EJ Holowicki. Holowicki, whom went on to work as a sound designer at Skywalker Sound, was a catalyst in making sure Beam documented these songs while the two were roommates in a house on St. Augustine St. near campus. In addition to serving as both engineer and bassist, Holowicki also worked as an archival producer in preparing the tracks for official release.
Tallahassee, with its sparse instrumental canvas and live-in one-room takes, is very much akin to early Iron & Wine releases, The Creek Drank the Cradle, The Sea & The Rhythm, and In the Reins. From the wandering country-esque tempo of "Calm on the Valley" to the more mid-tempo Harvest-era vibe of "This Solemn Day," the seeds of the portrait of an artist as a young man are all present. While still in its formative stages, the lyrical imagery and intimate musical nature that has become a trademark of the Iron & Wine "sound" is present and represented throughout Tallahassee.
Early music file-sharers have long claimed ownership of a number of early Iron & Wine recordings, many that still have yet to be officially released. While this record will not quite correct all the wrongs of the early days of the Internet, it will fill in many of the blanks for long-time fans.
...[T]he things that make Iron & Wine so lovely are here in nascent form. Beam's voice already has the power to rivet the listener to the speaker in awe of the warmth and feeling he transmits with seemingly no effort. His croon feels like the confession of a close friend, and on songs like 'Cold Town' and 'Why Hate Winter' (which sounds like backwoods Codeine) it's impossible to escape the raw emotion. There are also a few ghostly vocal harmonies - like on the halting ballad 'Show Him the Ground' - that point the way to Creek's incredible sound..... As far as lost, pre-fame recordings go, Archive Series No.5: Tallahassee Recordings is a genuine find.
- Part of the Official Iron & Wine Archive Series
- Vinyl LP
- 11 tracks recorded in 1998
- Textured LP jacket
- Why Hate Winter
- This Solemn Day
- Loaning Me Secrets
- John's Glass Eye
- Calm On The Valley
- Ex-Lover Lucy Jones
- Show Him The Ground
- Straight And Tall
- Cold Town