• Martha Benedict

Beans on Toast - ‘Bird in Hand’ Review


Beans on Toast's 10th album is a reflective, wry and, as usual, humorous album that shows how much has changed since his first album came out nearly a decade ago. Beans on Toast (aka Jay McAllister) has made it his trademark, for want of a better, less corporate term, to be personal and insightful and Bird in Hand is no different - released on the same day as all his other albums, a lot has changed since his first album Standing on a Chair.

One of the major influences of the album is evidently the birth of his daughter, earlier this year. in particular, ‘Magic’, ‘Another Year’ and ‘Here at Homerton Hospital’ all have this major event at their heart. Whilst such an event might be hard to handle in order to get such big emotions into words and music, Beans’ songs have a sense of the power and humanity of such experiences without seeming cliché - it’s really quite moving.

The Album is not without the standard, humorous, political satire though: ‘Alexa’, ‘Bamboo Toothbrush’ and ‘Please Give Generously’. ‘Alexa’ is humorous and worth trying to play on an Alexa - it get’s confused and just loops! Besides the initial humour there’s a comment at the song’s heart: Amazon are infiltrating our day to day existences…beware! ‘Bamboo Toothbrush’ and ‘Please Give Generously’ reflect the growing issues of plastic and homelessness and remind me of ‘The Price of Rice’ and ‘Don’t Believe the Bullshit’ from earlier in Beans’ discography

It is clear that Beans knows his genre and his audience: folk songs to be sung as the sun comes up at festivals round camp fires with an audience that become your friends as the night becomes day. A musician inspired by the likes of John Prine and Billy Bragg.

Should you ever get to see Beans live, which I highly recommend you do, there’s a high chance you’ll see him later, daffodil behind the ear, amongst the people - interested in their experiences: it’s where he gets his material from. His book ‘Drunk Folk Stories’, published earlier this year, is a page turner ( I read it in less than a day ) and a real insight onto Beans’ anecdotes and experiences that influence his music.

An album to get cosy on the sofa with when you're feeling romantic with someone and fancy having a winter evening in.

Bird In Hand is released on the 1st December and his book 'Drunk Folk Stories' is out now.

10/10

#music #alternative

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