REVIEW: Beans on Toast releases not one but two brand new albums

To release an album is a daunting task. Releasing two is an achievement. But to put two out simultaneously is a rare-achieve feat. And yet in all its unlikeliness, the much-beloved folk songwriter Jay McAllister, better known under his notorious stage name ‘Beans on Toast’ blessed his eager fans with two new albums released together, ‘Knee Deep in Nostalgia’ and ‘The Unforeseeable Future’. In the works, the artists invite the listeners to indulge in snapshots of history, with ‘Knee Deep in Nostalgia’ documenting the McAllister’s personal life, and ‘The Unforeseeable Future’ delving into the life mid-lockdown. When put together, the two albums serve as a journey, down paths once taken, and the reality of where we’ve ended up.

Album One- Knee Deep in Nostalgia

The title of McAllister’s first album says it all. Being released on the artists 40th birthday, the first collection of tracks is littered with stories, anecdotes and personal confessions from the artist, as he reminisces on the highlights of his life. Evocative of his earlier albums, and supposedly inspired by Frank Turner, the artist uses a guitar throughout the work, with light acoustic plucking accompanying the artist on almost all of the tracks to create a blissfully welcoming environment. Matched with the artist’s deeply personal tales, the whole work feels distinctly intimate- as if the lister and McAllister are gathered around a campfire, sharing stories together.

McAllister’s tales range from funny, to bizarre, to deeply heart-warming. ‘My Favourite Teacher’, is a track made for the stage, as the artist track the builds on his notorious tongue-in-cheek lyrics to share the story of how he found his love for the performing, with impressive hilarity. However, McAllister soon shifts the tone an emotional one with ‘The Album of The Day’, a heart-warming anecdote that invites the listener to get a glimpse of that artist’s relationship with his daughter, who also provides some vocals on the track, much to its benefit. It’s a true tear-jerker, however, McAllister soon picks the pace back up with the ending track ‘Coincidence?’. In this, the artist ditches the familiar guitar backing, swapping it out for a full band, who play a jaunty instrumental as the artist turns his head from the past to the future. The song delves into the artist’s optimism for what will come, yelping lyrics such as ‘Come what may!’ with apparent delight. The enthusiasm for the future is the perfect end to an album that spends it’s time delighting in the past and will leave listeners, intoxicated by the artist’s fascinating life, and hopeful for what time will bring.

"To release an album is a daunting task. Releasing two is an achievement. But to put two out simultaneously is a rare-achieve feat."

Album Two- ‘The Unforeseeable Future’

While the previous album dealt with the past, in ‘The Unforeseeable Future’, McAllister is cemented in the present. Throughout the album, the artist explores the ins and outs of the current global pandemic, the strange new normal we have landed in, and the fear that it has caused. Using similar acoustic backing as ‘Knee Deep in Nostalgia’, the album takes on a more sober tone, as McAllister delves past the personal, and instead ponders the impact on humanity as a whole. In the opener ‘Strange Days’, the artist reflects on the more mundane elements of the lockdown, singing passionately about stocking up on food, pandemic related memes, and the impact it will have on the country on the whole. This is soon followed by expressions of anger, with the sombre ‘What Colour You Are’ condemning the police brutality taking place in America, and the aptly titled ‘Arseholes’ discussing the failure of the government during the pandemic.

The grave tone of these tracks creates a pensive atmosphere, while still managing to retain the level of intimacy that was introduced on the first album. However, by delving past his own perspective, McAllister also introduces themes of unity across the album, that serves as a call to action for listeners to come together and think of their fellow man. ‘Got Each Other’ is a celebration of being with someone during trying times and radiates wholesome energy that is so beautifully simplistic, that it would resonate with anyone. The closer ‘Patience’ is the most upbeat track across the album, as McAllister leaves the audience with a final message of hope, that with time, all will improve. The cautious confidence that McAllister displays contrast the darker tones of the album beautifully, capturing the intricates of lockdown with a refreshing candidness. As an album ‘The Unforeseeable Future’ is honest, hopeful, and heart-warming. It’s the insight into life in lockdown and will be remembered as a memento, from a period of time that was truly like no other.

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