Sam Beam released his first official Iron & Wine album in 2002 (the lo-fi indie folk classic The Creek Drank the Cradle), but he had been recording music before that, and some of that early music had been bootlegged over the years, but now he will finally give an official release to his "lost" album Tallahassee, which was recorded between 1998 and 1999 when Sam was attending Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts, as part of his Archive Series. Here's more background info, via Sub Pop:

Tallahassee doesn’t attempt to re-write history but instead aims to document the very first steps in Beam's journey to becoming one of America’s most original and distinctive artists.

The eleven-song collection was culled from a number of recordings that had been (mostly) forgotten by Beam himself but had been preserved by former roommate and one-time Iron & Wine member, EJ Holowicki. Holowicki, whom went on to work as a sound designer at Skywalker Sound, was a catalyst in making sure Beam documented these songs while the two were roommates in a house on St. Augustine St. near campus. In addition to serving as both engineer and bassist, Holowicki also worked as an archival producer in preparing the tracks for official release.

Tallahassee, with its sparse instrumental canvas and live-in one-room takes, is very much akin to early Iron & Wine releases, The Creek Drank the Cradle, The Sea & The Rhythm, and In the Reins. From the wandering country-esque tempo of “Calm on the Valley” to the more mid-tempo Harvest-era vibe of “This Solemn Day”, the seeds of the portrait of an artist as a young man are all present. While still in its formative stages, the lyrical imagery and intimate musical nature that has become a trademark of the Iron & Wine “sound” is present and represented throughout Tallahassee.

Early music file-sharers have long claimed ownership of a number of early Iron & Wine recordings, many that still have yet to be officially released. While this record will not quite correct all the wrongs of the early days of the internet, it will fill in many of the blanks for long-time fans.

The first single is "Calm on the Valley," and as Sub Pop's announcement says, it's cut from the same cloth as those early Iron & Wine classics. If you miss the days when Sam Beam was making bare-bones bedroom folk, you definitely need to hear this lost gem. Listen and check out the artwork and tracklist below.

Archive Series No.5: Tallahassee Recordings arrives May 7 via Sub Pop.

1. Why Hate the Winter
2. This Solemn Day
3. Loaning Me Secrets
4. John’s Glass Eye
5. Calm on the Valley
6. Ex-Lover Lucy Jones
7. Elizabeth
8. Show Him the Ground
9. Straight and Tall
10. Cold Town
11. Valentine