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For 'Thomas County Law,' Iron & Wine's Sam Beam Presides Over His Own Funeral

On August 25, Iron & Wine will release Beast Epic, a new album that scales back the densely arranged grandeur of recent records like Ghost On Ghost and Kiss Each Other Clean. Though nowhere near as harrowingly spare as the bedroom recordings on which Beam first made his name, Beast Epic still feels like a return to roots; to simple, unadorned, plainspoken warmth.

Last month, Iron & Wine released the album's first single, "Call It Dreaming." Now comes a follow-up: "Thomas County Law," a gently rendered mid-tempo ballad whose accompanying video finds Beam decorating a church and giving a eulogy for what turns out to be his own (unattended) funeral.

"The song's content has to do with both denying and accepting one's origins," Beam writes via email. "So I think a film of me giving the eulogy at my own funeral is ecstatically appropriate."

The video, directed by J. Austin Wilson, lays out a black-and-white vision for the song — one in which, Beam says, location turned out to be everything.

"The building really did all the heavy lifting for us as we started brainstorming the concept together," he writes. "I like the simplicity of it: a task begun and finished."

Beast Epic comes out August 25 via Sub Pop.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: July 25, 2017 at 9:00 PM PDT
An earlier version of this story included information provided by the artist's publicist that named the video's director as August Wilson. His correct name is J. Austin Wilson.