Beans On Toast
'Rolling Up The Hill'
(Xtra Mile Recordings)
The philosophies of an introspective binge thinker
Essex born singer/songwriter Beans On Toast (real name Jay McAllister) began his career playing acoustic nights as part of the London folk scene in 2005 and, following a Glastonbury slot in 2007, has gone on to build a huge underground following in the UK. His straightforward social commentary with equal measures of jocular wordplay, self deprecation, genuine cynicism and wide-eyed storytelling may seem endearingly impolitic...but it's not....it's cultural anthropology. Though not quite the pissed off outsider he does have opinions and is opinionated enough to express them. Beyond any accurate definition..he's a hip-hop pub rock/social philosophy folk punk/ acoustic indie hippy rant poet.
New album Rolling Up The Hill is his seventh and, in keeping with his own quirky tradition, released it on Dec 1st, his birthday, as he has done every year since debut album Standing On A Chair in 2009. Recorded in Kansas and produced by husband/wife country duo Truckstop Honeymoon who introduce their own distinct brand of sound with the inclusion of a double bass, mandolin and banjo alongside Beans' usual acoustic infrastructure.
It brings a subtle Americana bluesy tinge to the songs, especially so on catchy opener The Mudhills Crew a breezy harmonica driven accolade to nostalgia with fond recollection (Teenage kicks and teenage dreams/ We were the best of friends/And tonight I've been thinking about them) while the cleverly crafted poke at capitalism on Robin Hood Costume is a class conscious political protest rap strung across a simple repetitive beat.
His adoration for girlfriend Lizzie B creates uncomplicated boy/girl love songs like I'm Home When You Hold Me...tender with honesty and beautifully innocent (I know you love the ocean baby/ I know you love the sea/ Well you know that I love you/ And I know that you love me) It's unsophisticated schoolyard chalk heart poetics...and isn't that as it should be...Why should we ever complicate what love makes simple? It's the song of the year for me!
God Is A Cartoonist is a vitriolic swipe at the instigating iconoclastic concepts of religion, conjouring from him his most acidic backbiting volley yet (Every christian, every muslim and every atheist/ Has a god giving right to take the piss/Hallellujah god is good, god is great/God is a terrorist/ while recent jaunts across the USA are chronicled in the foot-tapping travelogue of lead single The Great American Novel, a fond name-check through popular American culture with infectious storytelling enthusiasm in a charming framework of subtle bluegrass music
His songs are a fascinating sojourn through jigsawed pieces of modern culture without wandering too far from the realities of modernity, The witty, observational lyricisms are intoxicating..and there is no evocative metaphors or idiotic unthinkable visions of a better world. This is an album of profound sincerity, genuine reflection and astonishing, spot on, social essaying with heart on sleeve integrity.
Written by: Alan Baillie
Published at BBC Music