There are very few artists as endearing as British folk singer Jay McAllister, better known by stage name Beans On Toast. He’s a quirky folk musician who’s equal parts Bob Dylan and Buck 65, an everyday man who sings songs that have a charming honesty and simplicity blended with a quirky sense of humour. He’s the personification of a lazy Sunday afternoon smoking weed, playing an acoustic, and waxing philosophical about love, life, and politics.
McAllister has a lovely tradition of releasing an album every year on his birthday, December 1st. Seriously, how cool is that? This year he offers us Rolling Up the Hill. He’s sweet when he sings about missing his girlfriend who’s only been gone ten minutes on “I’m Home When You Hold Me.” Seriously, if anyone uses this song at their wedding, they’ll be my new heroes.
He’s philosophical on his love song to the United States, “The Great American Novel,” where he talks about the rest of the country to an American who’s never left his home state, having seen it from the eyes of an unknown touring musician’s eyes. He tells him, “I’ve seen a few music venues and a shit ton of bars.”
He then proceeds to get downright on point in “God Is A Cartoonist,” lamenting, “When a brown man kills we blame religion/When a black man kills we blame the race/When a white man kills we say it’s an isolated event and say he’s criminally insane.”
My standout track is “Robin Hood Costume,” which features a stand-up bass and drum, an unusual amount of instrumentation for this minstrel. It’s a call for more of us to become outlaws and shake the cages society constructs for us.
He’s seen his peers in the British folk scene blow up. He’s toured with Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons, and even formed a one day only Glastonbury ‘supergroup’ with Marcus Mumford apparently called Don`t Drop Your Rubbish On the Floor You Dirty C*nts, but listening to this album it seems obvious that he has no interest in becoming a household name. He’s quite happy writing songs straight from the heart and touring shitty bars with those fans who do get him. There’s a beauty to that which we don’t see very often, and it translates into his music. He even sings, “If there’s one thing that I’ve learned/It’s that a dollar costs more than it’s worth.” He says he’ll never change for anyone but himself, and to that I say, “Amen.”
Written by Richard Brunette
*edited by Kate Erickson