Sam Beam has a voice as sweet as iced tea in the summertime and a way with words that breaks hearts like a drunken surgeon, and so his second full-length teems with love songs wherein one of the lovers ends up as "ashes around the yard" and it's no big deal and no surprise. The characters in Beam's gentle songs are doomed and proud of it, or at least comfortable with that fact. They live for the moment, asking only one thing: "God, give us love in the time that we have," as Beam sings on Our Endless Numbered Days' opener, "On Your Wings." All they have is now, because tomorrow, they'll be hanging from a tree ("Free Until They Cut Me Down") or watching the farmhouse burn down ("Cinder and Smoke") or trying to figure out what to say at the graveside ("Each Coming Night"). If it sounds depressing, it's really not, because Beam imbues each tragedy with a hope for better days and the memory of all the good ones that came before. Nick Drake might've made this record -- if he'd been born and raised on a war-torn plantation trying to make sense of Reconstruction.
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