Succinctly self-described as a “drunk folk singer”, opinionated acoustic artist Beans On Toast will be coinciding his 34th birthday on December 1st with the release of his sixth studio album The Grand Scheme Of Things. Having almost finished his biggest year to date, and newly engaged to his muse, Lizzy Bee, the man’s turning his mind to the more valuable things in life, whilst still retaining the honest, say-what-no-one-else-will edge to his music. It’s an album that’s his most reflective, humorous, and brilliant.
For those unfamiliar with Beans On Toast, opening track Folk Singer will serve as an apt introduction to his catalogue. As he says himself, he’s true to the chords that have served him well over the past years, and this is one of the first of his tracks to hint sceptically about the “trials and tribulations” of the lone folk singer, whilst remaining true to the point that money isn’t everything. What’s most baffling about this opening track is that if it weren’t for the chords and lyricism, you wouldn’t quite tell it was him from the voice.
The War On War serves another introduction, and whilst it’s reflective over his last album and biggest hit, there’s a distinct progression in his work. Tighter rhymes and craftier lyricism leave you more in awe of how he fits his opinions to a tune than simply giving you some views mixed with chords, and while this signals a development to a more mature sound, there’s all the passion and fun from his first work. They’re the sort of lyrics you’d want written on a sign at a protest.
Touring America lead to the creation of Fuck You Nashville, drawing on the more eclectic side of the instrumental that features in his work. Interesting and bizarre metaphors sit alongside the catchy storytelling, before a, uh, chicken noise opens self explanatory The Chicken Song. Social commentary on battery hens is voiced with a bloody hilarious twist in the bridge that’s very possibly the highlight of the album.
It’s almost strange to hear a guitar backing so complex in a Beans song as that in Stinging Nettles, but the twisted idioms still take focus of the track, and what’s clear is that the complexity of the backing doesn’t matter; his wise words and originality are the main grabber of attention. Lovingly fond Lizzy’s Cooking and NOLA Honeymoon serve as a catchy and heartfelt pair of love songs to his muse, wearing his heart on his sleeve along with all his opinions.
Idioms are challenged and the value of friendship is praised in Flying Clothes Line, with a sense of gentle sentimentality highlighted by the input of a piano, before All I See Is Wagamama hints at superstitions in gentrification. With his new work comes longer songs (here, over five and a half minutes) and a chance to more deeply delve into his opinions, and the more supported arguments add a level of maturity that’s nothing but deserving of respect – and still keeps the harsh edge to his work through (probably accurate) blanket assumptions of those with the power.
A Whole Lot Of Loving shows off the downright hippie side of Beans On Toast’s personality in a mellowed out and laid back peace request, with final NYE (whilst currently a little out of season) filled with positive messages and forward-thinking motivation, eventually winding up with a summary of his morals in the final verse of the album.
This is his most mature work to date, and whilst still home to the social commentary, fond romanticism and his three trusted chords, there’s a development lyrically, making it his finest record as of yet.