More of the same from the unique, croaking and self-proclaimed “drunk folk” singer-songwriter that is Beans on Toast. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In his 10 year long music career, Beans On Toast has produced six studio albums, some of which sound very similar. His use of the same chord patterns, same melodies and same vocal tone may bore and put many people off his work. But this artist’s saving grace is genius, honest and simple lyrics that allow you to become very much attached to him if you can look past some of hi instrumental shortcomings. But first, let’s look at the album.
The first track “Folk Singer“, sets the mood of the album perfectly with a simple, adorably imperfect harmonica solo. The rest of the song, instrumentally, is very simple but effective. Using a total of five instruments in the entire track, you still manage to feel the song build up and quieten down. Lyrically, however, is where it really stands out. The song answers many questions and gives an explanation of who Beans On Toasy is as a musician, what it means to be a folk singer and why he loves doing what he does. A very heartfelt song that is, undeniably, one of his best.
The second song shows a different side to Beans On Toast. “The War on War” is much faster paced with more politically charged lyrics and a repeated simple concept that we should love one another. I thought this song really showed off Toast’s ability to lyrically convey a message that obviously means a lot to him, making this an instant favourite of his for me. After that we move back into more sentimental territory with “F**k you Nashville”, a song about something that has been a dream or a huge part of a dream just not living up to expectations. In this case his love for the city of Nashville. You can really hear the feeling and sadness in this song and, even though the title may not give indication, the song wears its country influences on its sleeve.
“Stinging Nettles” follows and gets straight into the concept that kids are spending too much time on their smart phones and less time playing in the river and getting stung by stinging nettles. I liked this track but I felt lyrically and instrumentally it was just a bit simple compared to his other songs. “Lizzy’s Cooking” can be perfectly described using the opening line of the chorus, “it’s a light hearted love song from a heavy heavy heart”. A beautifully simplistic song that hits all the right notes emotionally, with its easily relatable lyrics and quaint harmonies.
“A Whole Lot of Loving” is next on the album. The best way to describe this song is to just say it is a breath of fresh air with simple idea that we shouldn’t concentrate on hate, war and religion but just enjoy what we have and be happy. I love this song because it just radiates happiness with every major chord and each bounce of the tempo. The next song hits home for a lot of people I have showed it to. “Flying Clothes Line” tells the story of the young artist living in Essex and his relationship with the friends of the family. Including stories of Beatlemania, trips to Bridlington and stained carpets, this song perfectly captures the feeling of having a family that may not be related but are a huge part of your life even when you grow older.
A slightly different song follows. Beans On Toast drops his simple guitar parts and changes it up with a playful piano score. “All I See is Wagamama” explores the difference between London now and a couple decades ago. With topics from capitalism and centrification to artists and housing prices, this is defiantly a song to listen closely to. However the instrumental accompaniment seems rushed and messy. Not my favourite track from the album.
“Nola Honeymoon” is next up and, being the hopeless romantic I am, this has to be my favourite of all the songs on the album. From the conversational lyrics to the full brass band, this song takes the parts of us that still believes in true love and brings it out (whether we like it or not). When the entire song is just a way for Beans On Toast to propose to his girlfriend, you can’t help but feel a smile form across your face. “Nye” finishes the album and does it in true Beans on Toast fashion: A down to earth message, a simple collection of chords and an acoustic guitar. Directed at people who can’t leave things in the past and move on, this is a beautiful and simple track that finishes the album of perfectly.
Overall, Beans on Toast knows who his fans are and you can feel that he is comfortable with simply writing for himself and for the people who love him for who he is. It would be wrong of me to tell him to be louder, quieter, more violent, more cute etc because he has been making music long enough now to know what he wants to do. I don’t think we can expect Beans On Toast to change his style anytime soon and for me, that is perfect. The Grand Scheme of Things is great fan serves and is also a nice introduction to his style for anyone who doesn’t know him that well.
Words by Jack Valla // Edited by Ayo Adepoju