Beans on Toast, A.K.A Jay McAllister is a British folk singer who has released his latest politically charged album A Spanner in the Works.
By Jane Howkins.
A Spanner In The Works is a politically charged album recently released by folk artist Beans On Toast, otherwise known as Jay McAllister. This was quite a highly anticipated release due to growing critical interest in McAllister’s work and a change in musical sound, and for the most part it lives up to that excitement.
Whilst his previous work has been more along the folk-punk lines, A Spanner In The Works sees McAllister expanding upon that, with a number of different elements introduced throughout the record. As with a lot of releases over the past few years, samples have been introduced into the mix – showing the breadth of McAllister’s musical knowledge and talent. Don’t be too worried about the change in sound though, as this is still a Beans On Toast record through and through, and the new electronic additions aren’t overwhelming at all. It’s quite the opposite actually, with most of the songs being minimalist affairs, focused more on the songwriting and message than with overloading on loops and beats.
The message that McAllister is trying to put across on A Spanner In The Works is an interesting one, with lyrics ranging from environment issues, to the refugee crisis, to Brexit, and onto the 2016 American election. It’s clear from the lyrics that that McAllister is of the liberal persuasion and understandably that might put some people off if they lean more to the right or don’t want to hear a political album, however he does takes swipes at the left as well, with Afternoons In The Sunshine showing a particular example of this. Not every song is political (I Can Be That Tree is a sweet ditty about McAllister’s marriage), but it is a big part of the make-up of this album, and it is important to stress that first in case that isn’t your thing.
Despite the heavy topics, it’s still a very good album and one with as many catchy hooks as there are political references. It’s great to hear McAllister changing his sound up a little, and long may it continue.