The Shepherd's Dog

  • Record Label: Sub Pop
  • Release Date: Sep 25, 2007

Universal acclaim - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 34
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 34
  3. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. 93
    With his grandest album to date, mark the return of Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam a triumphant one, packed with romantic tales of small towns, countrysides and the expansive sea.
  2. Entertainment Weekly
    Once the shock of Beam's experimental bent wears off, it becomes clear that he's added dimension to his style without sacrificing its gorgeous tranquility. [28 Sep 2007, p.107]
  3. The Shepherd's Dog goes a long way towards validating all the attention I&W have been getting; it's their best, most diverse and listenable record yet as Beam and co. take another leap away from the lo-fi one dude in a bedroom beginnings of the group.
  4. The Shepherd's Dog proves that Beam is worthy of the attention that he is given and actually a brilliant musical mind rather than some guy who got lucky enough to make a great album in his bedroom.
  5. By pushing pop into the dreary without all the drab, Iron and Wine strikes a balance of truth and hope that can get muddled by a scene dominated by pessimists.
  6. Alternative Press
    Sam Beam has returned with a third full-length that rivals just about anything in his small but illustrious catalog. [Nov 2007, p.162]
  7. Beam has managed to tweak and in?ate his signature sound without sacri?cing any of its considerable charm.
  8. Intimate, literate and wonderfully executed, Iron & Wine seem to have made one of the albums of the year. Don’t let it pass you by.
  9. Whether blazing a tight new trail or feeling its way in the darkness, each tune on the album heads somewhere, collectively making as much of a stylistic progression as the recording of "Our Endless Numbered Days" made in fidelity and depth.
  10. The Shepherd's Dog is Iron & Wine's most diverse and progressive album yet, a deft transition to a very different sound that explores new territory while preserving the best aspects of Beam's earlier recordings.
  11. I think The Shepherd's Dog is probably Iron & Wine's best record to date (Beam has never once even made a mediocre album, so this says a lot).
  12. Ultimately, it's that broken, half-told beauty that gives Dog its mystery, but also perhaps its feel of a record you may always like but around which you may never really feel completely comfortable.
  13. More definitive than ever, the rhythm and percussion complement Beam's voice, a lulling, almost eerie tone that occasionally recalls John Lennon's early solo work
  14. The result is a folk album so rich and intricate that, in scope, it's comparable to Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks."
  15. What really stands out is how …Dog literally hits the ground running from its opener, 'Pagan Angel And A Borrowed Car,' cutting a clear slice from the organic and distinctive junkyard percussion and deep-fried blues stomps of Tom Waits.
  16. 80
    It is, by any measure, a quiet revolution.
  17. Spin
    The real orchestration is in Beam's voice, a sigh so angelic it masks the religious turmoil within. [Oct 2007, p.106]
  18. Under The Radar
    It is Beam at his best and a fitting conclusion to an album that shows why Iron & Wine continues to be the standard bearer for neofolk and beyond. [Summer 2007, p.74]
  19. The result is an album of tremendous fullness: The sound is dense, the lyrics are complex, and the production is top-drawer.
  20. Beam has managed to maintain some of the intimate charm of his home recordings by cleverly trading a conventional trap drum kit for hand percussion. It works wonders to make an elaborate production seem smaller and more organic while strengthening the music's rhythmic component.
  21. 80
    The whiff of apocalypse is unmistakable. Yet the scent of wildflowers and lovers’ musk wins out.
  22. The Shepherd’s Dog is the brilliant culmination of his experiments.
  23. The Shepherd’s Dog is the most successful merger yet of Beam’s meticulously constructed songs with adventurous arrangements that move further and enthusiastically away from the band’s pious beginnings.
  24. Q Magazine
    Like quicksand, it's subtle, surprising and utterly absorbing. [Oct 2007, p.98]
  25. This record is vast, playful, and most importantly, an absolute joy to listen to.
  26. Magnet
    By maintaining his intimacy while armed with a full palette of colors, Beam sets himself far apart from the rest of the hush-and-shush crowd. [Fall 2007, p.98]
  27. Where music fails to tell a story, Beam’s lyricism fills in the details.
  28. I don’t think it’s too harsh to suggest that each Iron & Wine album is not a step forward so much as a more sophisticated look at the same paces.
  29. On his third Iron & Wine full-length, he goes for his biggest sound yet, but the production is mere window dressing for some of his best songwriting.
  30. Beam finally brings the blood, instrumental colors and quirky but fluid arrangements that make explicit the worry and wounds running red in his Southern-gothic stories and dead-love letters.
  31. The Shepherd’s Dog is a step forward for Iron and Wine in many ways. The only moments where it falters are where the tonal characteristics gesture toward the past. When it shines, however, The Shepherd’s Dog’s clever songwriting and creative instrumentation makes for the most complete record Beam has ever recorded.
  32. Joey Burns and Paul Niehaus from Calexico take part on 'The Shepherd's Dog,' dovetailing neatly with Beam's vividly personal lyrics and ear for gentle, haunting melody.
  33. Beam invests each track of The Shepherd's Dog with a unique tone and a singular, even gimmicky arrangement.
  34. Though the LP culminates a clear progression for Beam, Iron & Wine coalescing since 2005's "Woman King" into a band secure enough to experiment, the barrage of instrumentation and effects do little to advance the songs on The Shepherd's Dog.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 60 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. Cables
    Nov 25, 2007
    Overtime, it has revealed itself to be my favorite album of the year. Once you surrender yourself to the albums pacing and wordplay, allowing Overtime, it has revealed itself to be my favorite album of the year. Once you surrender yourself to the albums pacing and wordplay, allowing time to take its course and melodies to sink in, it never lets you go. Full Review »
  2. Mar 17, 2013
    I disregarded this album for the longest time, But I must admit it's a solid folk/indie/rock record. The lyrics, the vocals, the production,I disregarded this album for the longest time, But I must admit it's a solid folk/indie/rock record. The lyrics, the vocals, the production, all worthy of noticing. All In All, I'm not the biggest Iron & Wine fan but I do particularly find this record really well-made. B+ Full Review »
  3. AshleyT.
    Dec 11, 2007
    By far the best Iron and Wine album to date.