4th & B, Tuesday, November 27, 8 p.m. 619-231-4343. $20.
There are many singer-songwriters trying to sound like the new Nick Drake, but that goal comes with some serious side effects. Fully inhabiting the role would require living in near obscurity and dying by one's own hand. Your record won't go gold until it appears in a Volkswagen commercial 20 years after you're dead. Who wants that? Better to cheer up a little, hire a good publicist, and get the car commercial while you're alive.
Anyway, Sam Beam, the guy behind Iron and Wine, is widely heralded as one of the best of the new Drakes. Iron and Wine first got the public's attention with a song in Garden State, the movie soundtrack that defined an epoch: the Age of Yuppie-Indie. The song was a cover of Postal Service's "Such Great Heights," which in its original form has been the favorite song of many TV medical shows and commercials over the past few years.
Beam knows how to pick a cover, but his own songs are good, too -- romantic and mysterious and dark, with an occasional touch of the Southern Gothic. I hadn't realized that they had Southern Gothic as far south as Miami, which is where Beam is from, but I don't know what else you would call it when he starts cooing about drunk mothers and praying for rain and farmhouses burning down.
I'm sorry. Beam's voice is soothing and warm, like your grandmother's pecan pie, or whatever cliché you prefer. I like his lyrics, even. It's just that Beam isn't the new Nick Drake -- he's the new James Taylor. And good for him; no one deserves a fate like Drake's.
IRON AND WINE, 4th & B, Tuesday, November 27, 8 p.m. 619-231-4343. $20.