Iron and Wine is a pretty folk-y sound coming from Samuel Beam. Growing up in South Carolina Sam regularly was taken to his grandfather's farm, and this can kind of be felt in his music. It all kind of feels like a man walking a dusty road next to a corn farm with the blue sky above him and a sad memory on his shoulder. Sam had been writing songs for years before his friend gave him something to actually record it on. Later, another friend, Michael Bridwell, brother of the lead singer for Band of Horses, gave some of them to the editor for Yeti Magazine.
Before breaking out Sam had some interesting changes in what he wanted to do in his life. He first went to school and earned a bachelors degree in art from Virginia Commonweath. His next step was to change gears and chose to instead study film at Florida State, earning a master in the subject. His main job leading up to starting an actual music career was being a film and cinematography professor at Miami International University of Art & Design. It's pretty obvious that, while the medium changed, Sam wanted to do something artistic. Landing your first album at the age of 28 is surprisingly late these days so you don't often have the luxury of trying to figure out what it is you want to do.
Sam may be indie folk but he did have some commercial success, his cover of The Postal Service's track "Such Great Heights" was used in an M&M's commercial, an Ask. com commercial, and the movie Garden State. He has also had music featured in Grey's Anatomy, The L Word, House MD, and the movie Twilight. Not too shabby successwise.
He adds some more instruments in The Sheperd's Dog and I think it sounds fantastic for it.