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The live record was once considered a staple of an artist’s discography. A
document capturing a moment in time or perhaps reinventing older material
as it was being given new life or perhaps showcasing a band at the height
of their prowess, it was a standard release in every band’s catalog.
Recently, the internet has made bootlegging almost non-existent as bands
specialize in offering board-quality downloads that can be equally as
important as a band’s official releases. The live experience has always
been the going-to-church portion of our communal experience, and the live
record should capture that spirit and energy. With those goals in mind, Iron
& Wine offer their first official live record with the career-spanning set Who
Can See Forever.
Captured over two evenings at the historic Haw River Ballroom in
Saxapahaw, North Carolina, Who Can See Forever finds Iron & Wine in full
flight, working their way through a catalog of songs spanning their twenty-
plus-year career. The recordings happened deep into a three-year period
by a band of assassins assembled by mainstay Sam Beam that included
bassist Sebastian Steinberg (Fiona Apple, Soul Coughing), drummer Beth
Goodfellow (Allison Russell, Better Oblivion Community Center), cellist
Teddy Rankin-Parker and keyboardist Eliza Hardy-Jones (War on Drugs,
Grace Potter). It was a creative period for Beam that rendered two albums
(Beast Epic and Weed Garden) and garnered four Grammy nominations.
While having performed many shows solo acoustic and known mostly as a
singer-songwriter to those in the know, Beam has over the years
assembled some of the most adventurous musicians when putting together
his touring bands. From members of Antibalas to Califone, Chicago
Underground Duo to Tin Hat Trio, Isotope 217 to Calexico, Beam has rarely
sought the comfort of straight interpretation. Taking as much inspiration
from Little Feat or The Talking Heads as he might from Tom Waits or
Leonard Cohen, the musicians are cast in roles like actors with the hope
they bring something new and different night in and night out.
Who Can See Forever offers a fresh listen to many of Iron & Wine’s most
well-loved songs, including “The Trapeze Swinger,” “Boy With a Coin,” and
“Naked As We Came,” while also showcasing more recent classics like
“Thomas County Law” and “Monkeys Uptown” to name but a few of the
albums nineteen tracks.
Initially intended as a live concert film, Who Can See Forever was shot
over three years by director Josh Sliffe. Using the traditional concert film as
its jumping-off point, Who Can See Forever digs into its subject matter
through a series of interviews, moments in between, and unguarded
behind-the-scenes footage to put the viewer at the center of the Iron &
Wine universe. Part concert film, part music documentary, and part
meditative examination, both Who Can See Forever and its accompanying
soundtrack are the perfect companion piece for existing fans and a
welcome entry point for new ones.