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Iron & Wine Keep the Volume Low But Spirits High

August 3, 2008 11:25 PM ET

Iron & Wine's calm folk-rock demanded peace and quiet, and for the most part, got it from a very polite crowd. Backed by a band that, akin to its leader's razor-repellent facial hair, seems to grow with each passing month, frontman Sam Beam looked freshly aroused from a long nap. The group never detoured from the sleepy pace, relying on wood-block percussion and pedal-steel guitars to patiently trek through the sonic equivalent of the Amazon forest. At first glance, Iron & Wine's lullabies seemed a tailor-made match for playing to parents and children over on the nearby Kidz Stage. But seedy matter lurked underneath the otherwise tranquil exteriors of "House by the Sea" and "The Devil Never Sleeps." And their soothing moods and hammock-sway slowness encouraged a few adult pursuits — joint smoking, beer sipping, tripping — still off limits to the stroller set. Yet the muted aura occasionally dragged, a risk taken by any band traveling in the direction of a more strung-out version of the Grateful Dead.

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Song Stories

“Love Is the Answer”

Utopia | 1977

The message of the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" proved to be a universal and long-lasting one, which Utopia revisited 10 years later on this ballad. "From a lyrical standpoint, it's part of a whole class of songs that I write, which are about filial love," Todd Rundgren explained. "I'm not a Christian, but it's called Christian love, the love that people are supposed to naturally feel because we are all of the same species. That may be mythical, but it's still a subject." Though "Love Is the Answer" wasn't a hit, a cover version two years later by England Dan & John Ford Coley peaked at Number Ten on the Billboard singles chart.

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