Zoe Kyoti is the beautiful voice of The Magic Beans, while Uli Elbracht is the oh-so talented guitarist, and Matt Owens the excellent string-bass player. Blues, roots, Ratpack-style swing and theatre - these are just some of the things you can expect from their new album, 'Anything You Can Dream'.
Now, I'm going to be honest - when I first heard the band name, I assumed the album was going to be charming and fluffy. The embodiment of a pink cloud, candy floss-y and of course, there's nothing wrong with a little charm and fluff, and pink-cloud-candy-floss-y songs have their days.
What I'm trying to say is I was being arrogant and ignorant, and The Magic Beans proved me wonderfully wrong. The album opens with 'Anything You Can Dream', Kyoti's soft voice playful, Elbracht's finger-picking style accompanied by shaking maracas.
"Go with Imp and Sprite," sings Kyoti,"Dance into the night/Until the dew-dropped/ Foxglove fanfare blows."
The song goes on with fairytale-style poetry about falling down rabbit holes and "ladybird dominoes". A direct contrast to this upbeat, quirky tune is the next song - a cover of 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For the Both of Us' by Sparks, flashing the darker side of this band.
Also flashing the darker (note: much, much darker) side of the band is 'Trust In Me' - a slow guitar melody over which Kyoti sings in whispered tones, "Shut your eyes/and trust in me", the melody disjointed and the whole thing so un-foxglove-fanfare that you're tempted to check if it's the same band.
Showing their raw bluesy side is 'Cocaine Lil' about a woman - named Lil - who lives on a "cocaine house on a cocaine hill" with her cocaine dog, cocaine cat, and other various cocaine-lined things.
'Itchycoo Park' also holds some not-so-buried references to having a jolly old mind-altering time. Bird noises are dotted through the track as Kyoti sings about Itchycoo Park in reply to a male voice asking her questions about it. What do they do there? "Get high, touch the sky", of course. Why are there tears there? "It's all too beautiful." Just kidding, it's all perfectly innocent, and you're just corrupted. Shame on you.
'Palolem Bay' showcases the beautiful guitar skills of Elbracht, a moving melody showing the soulful and powerful abilites of all band members. Bringing the mood back up is 'The Second Time Around', a Dean Martin-style love song about falling in love the second time around, its long guitar instrumental reminsicent of summertime.
Different to the other tracks is 'Waterfall', with layered vocals and a folk-ballad tone about a woman escaping home. The album ends with 'I'll Be Seeing You', a soft song with gentle strumming and warm feeling, and unique lyrics. Where will the band be seeing you? In places like the "small cafe", the "walnut tree", the "children's carousel", of course.
An album that shows not only raw musical talent across the genres and innovation in lyrics and melody, 'Anything You Can Dream' is as fun and upbeat as it is solemn and sultry.