However, as the name may suggest, this time around he’s decided to do things a little differently.
With his unfaltering DIY ethic still at the forefront of its making, ‘A Spanner In The Works’ sees Beans embracing technology to create a record simply made on a laptop, around a mate’s house. While the new recordings still have Beans’ trademark three chord folk songs at their heart, this time around each track is layered in myriad beats, loops, synths and samples, spanning an array of genres and styles, that make for an album by Beans unlike any you’ve heard before.
Lead track and album opener and ‘2016’, lulls the listener in with a teasing taste of the familiar being the only song on the record to feature any guitar. A classic Beans song and an ode to the mood of the country in what has been a tumultuous year. With celebrity deaths, terror threats, the referendum and the worrying rise of fascism, the track’s conscious lyrics see Beans trying to make sense of the year and making a stand for what’s right and good.
“It might not be the cheeriest Beans on Toast song ever, but sadly it’s been that kind of year.” reflects Beans.
From then on, you can strap yourself in for a different experience all together. ‘I Can Be That Tree’ sees the synths truly kick in on a song about Beans and his wife Lizzy Bee planting a tree in a public park to celebrate their first anniversary; it’s a true digital folk love song. Elsewhere, ‘The Drum Kit’ sees Beans getting bold and brassy, on a song that bitterly tackles the issue of the increasing closure of live music venues across the country; the very same music venues that Beans has spent the last decade playing, touring and working in for nearly a decade.
Epic album closer, ‘Fast Train’, sees Beans dabbling in the forgotten art of waltz for a song that takes on the worldwide problem of gentrification, a huge subject dealt with openly and honestly, as is Beans’ usual style.
The chewing of usual cogs doesn’t stop there, however and the record features a number of special guests. House vocal diva Alex Mills enters the frame on ‘We Made It To The Waterfall’ to add some fruity doo-waps reminiscent of the Sixties Girl Group sound. Elsewhere on the record, the brilliant Matt Millership from Tensheds drops in to lay down the keys on a number of tracks throughout the album. Speaking about his valuable contribution to the record, Beans says:
“Boy can [Matt] play! His honky tonk playing on drinking song ‘Down The Pub’ is out of this world. He also contributes to ‘Nanny Mac’ a song about my Nan living in the old East End and ‘It’s Only Natural’; a new anthem for stoners.”
Most special all of all these guests perhaps though, is the appearance of Beans’ own Mum, Pauline, who takes to the mic to add her thoughts on the looming threat of climate change on ‘Fear Mongering Clap Trap’.
Recorded over a single weekend with old friend and long time collaborator Scampi Dan, the album is a fresh and different, but very much a welcome addition to the Beans On Toast catalogue.
Talking about the making of A Spanner In The Works, Beans On Toast says:
“For this album I came up with the name first and had the urge to do something little different when recording it. The idea of doing it without guitars seemed like a suitable spanner. The sounds and rhythms you can make on a computer are absolutely endless and we had a lot of fun exploring that world, as it’s interesting to see how many twisting paths a song can go down after it’s been written. I’m super proud of this album, it’s a bit different but to me it’s still folk music and it sits well with all my other albums, past and future.”
Beans On Toast is on his annual Winter tour of the UK right now and you’d be forgiven for wondering how the new set up will impact the stripped back live show we have come to know and love. Fear not, there’s no plan to start taking laptops on stage and pressing play. At the live shows the album will all be played on the usual guitar, banjo, harmonica set up, in the way they were originally written. As usual Beans doesn’t pull any punches, he says it as it is. Protest songs, heart on his sleeve love songs and social commentary that feels just like a conversation with your mates down the pub.
Beans On Toast plays:
02/12 Margate, The Talking Drum
03/12 Hastings, Brass Monkey
04/12 Norwich, The Owl Sanctuary
06/12 Birmingham, Hare & Hounds
07/12 Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms
08/12 Bristol, Thekla
09/12 Swansea, The Garage
Beans on Toast’s new Album - ‘A Spanner in the Works’ - was released on 1st December 2016.
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