Archive Series No.5: Tallahassee Recordings
Sam Beam’s earliest recordings reveal a songwriter and singer already secure in his eccentricities. Far from sounding tentative, these songs are more like a lost Iron & Wine album.
To a certain degree, much of Tallahassee sounds like it could be an extension of Beam’s filmmaking, which he’s described as “pretentious” and others have likened to Andrei Tarkovsky. Some of these songs are like short movies in themselves, or at least modest soundtracks to short scenes. The windswept melody of “Ex-Lover Lucy Jones” follows a lovelorn man building shrines to a woman, before revealing that the romance is one-sided and the man an unreliable narrator.
Beam punctuates the tale with the most basic harmonica solo you could imagine—a series of long inhalations and exhalations marking the passage of time that might separate lovers from each other or from the people they once were. On this song and throughout Tallahassee, Beam demonstrates a knack for devastating succinctness, giving only enough details to insinuate a pain that never becomes overwhelming—the kind you just live with from one day to the next. Nothing about these songs sounds tentative or grasping. Already he understands how to settle into a song and simply let it breathe on its own.