Prior to recording The Creek Drank the Cradle in 2002 under the Iron & Wine moniker, Sam Beam was both a visual artist and cinematography professor at the University of Miami. These talents combined, help explain Beam’s ability to craft vivid, emotional folk-rock tales. Wednesday night, Beam and co. displayed this talent with a performance of the nostalgic “Tree By The River”, off January’s Kiss Each Other Clean, for Leno.
Beam, equipped with an acoustic guitar, soothing half-spoken vocals, and backed by a clarinet, piano, female background singers, and mandolin, delivered the track with the passion and sentiment of another male singer-songwriter — James Taylor. Whether from the city or country, US or abroad, listeners have no trouble imagining the dark canyon, tree by the river, or other imagery that fill Beam’s story teller lyrics.