Releasing an album on your birthday every year must be exhausting, right? Not for folk drunkard Jay McAllister. We’re pretty sure he gets off on it. Like the Saint Nick of acoustic folk, Beans released his fifth studio album, Giving Everything, on the 1st December.
Beans on Toast has never been one to shy away from controversial topics, and this album does not disappoint on this front, the first track ‘Harry in a Helicopter’ being a cheerful tune about Prince Harry dressing up as a Nazi and murdering people while doing tours in the army. “He’s so high that he’s not sure what he’s even shooting at/His Sergeant Major told him that it’s probably Afghanistan”. Another track that stands out is ‘Charlie’, an upbeat reggae-style song about giving up pot. If you have seen Beans on Toast play a live show in the last year or so you have more than likely heard him this sing-a-long track, which breaks up the album nicely and also adds a nice touch of diversity to the folk-heavy sound. Beans continues the theme of turning over a new leaf and looking after himself with ‘Throat Cancer’ a personal song about giving up smoking and drugs after a visit to the doctor, going cold turkey, something that a lot of people can relate to. This perhaps shows a new, more serious side to the artist, one that might bring a whole variety of new subjects to the board for future records.
Like with most Beans on Toast albums, there is not a huge range of instruments used in the recording, but arguably there does not need to be, the songs relying on the lyrics to carry them. We do, however, have the addition of a harmonica on a couple of tracks, a welcome extra and folk favourite which enhances and adds to the overall sound of the record.
Giving Everything is quite appropriately titled as it really does give fans everything that they would expect from a Beans on Toast record. There is the stripped back sound that we have encountered before on previous outings, and comical lyrics that despite being simple are heartfelt and honest. While it is easy to say that Beans isn’t exactly breaking new ground with Giving Everything, he does seem to get better and better at what he is already good at – fun folk songs with meaning. Also drinking.