Jay McAllister is a remarkable artist. More commonly known as BEANS ON TOAST, he releases an album every year on his birthday and GIVING EVERYTHING is his 5th and most recent of said offerings, once again realeased via Xtra Mile Recordings.
Opening with the fantastically cheeky ‘Harry in a Helicopter’, a tale of Price Harry which ends with the ginger haired royal assassinating Prince William and Kate Middleton whilst she was in labour, the album is fantastically stripped back at its essence, often just Jay with a few instruments behind him. This is where Beans on Toast is at his best, not taking life too seriously yet broadcasting simple and effective messages such as “war is bad, and killing is wrong”.
Personal favourites come in the shape of ‘Things’, which starts with the superbly blunt “I’m not a poster boy for recreational drugs, I’m a 32 year old man with a pocket full of stories, a handful of songs and a three chord master plan”, reggae-influenced ‘Charlie’ and an ode to his guitar entitled ‘Favourite Thing I Own’. Anyone who has gigged in Bristol will crack a smile at ‘Who is Big Jeff?’, and start to end the material is fresh, honest, simple and quite frankly superb.
If we think about it deeply enough, we all have a friend like Jay; consciously objecting to our using of companies with morally questionable ethics, disapproving of the status quo and generally disliking a load of stuff that we quite enjoy, yet at the same time being a fantastically interesting person that we wouldn’t change for the world. I certainly have one, go look him up @RichieLavery on Twitter. A thoroughly miserable bastard that I love to bits. Beans on Toast is the artist that most encapsulates this friend, and it’s this that captivates me so much about him as a performer and a songwriter. He writes songs that I wish I’d written, and I can never just put him on for a song for two. It’s an albums worth or nothing, and so be it.
‘Giving Everything’ is probably already my favourite Beans On Toast record, and one of my favourite releases of 2013. His live show is an unpredictable bundle of fun, much like his recorded works, and he’s an artist that everyone should at least check out once. It’s pretty damn hard not to like him, and this material is quintessential Beans. Behind the dude seemingly not taking anything he does seriously, there’s an extremely talented songwriter here who people need to take notice of. Bravo!