Album Review: Beans on Toast – A Spanner in the Works

Beans on Toast has been steadily producing music for over a decade now with eight studio albums to his name and plenty of live work to boot. Typically opting to release an album each year on the first of December (his birthday) it is with a happy heart that we can say that 2016 was no different as he has brought to life the phenomenal A Spanner in the Works.

The musical project of Jay McAllister, Beans on Toast is the strangely named project through which McAllister is widely known for tackling a series of tough political and environmental issues in his work. A Spanner in the Works is thankfully no different and McAllister doesn’t shy away from a single thing being as open and honest about his own faults as he is about everyone else’s. Opening with what is arguably the most apt summary of our year to date, 2016 spills out McAllister’s thoughts and feelings on everything this year from the referendum to the US presidential election. Okay so it might now be the cheeriest song and you might not enjoy it so much if you voted UKIP – but it’s a soothing and entertaining look at the world through his eyes.

McAllister has a gravelled and whisky tinged voice that is combined with a strong British accent making for a totally unique sound. His voice seems perfectly suited to a harsh city life and his lyrics live up to this. His dry, sardonic sense of humour is brought to life in each and every song and he combines this is a blend of music that treads a line somewhere between folk, roots, soul, rock and ska. He surrounds himself with organs, drums, brass, fiddles and more. Songs like The Drum Kit with Gap is a bouncing tune that is bolstered up by strong drums and a bold and brazen brass tune that brings it bursting to life. Songs like this make his messages so very hard to ignore.

A Spanner in the Works is a truly fantastic album with so very much to say. McAllister has created another musical masterpiece that simply doesn’t confirm to any particular genre in the same way that he doesn’t seem to conform to any standards other than his own. It’s a collection of songs that are fun and poignant in equal measure which is a unique and wonderful talent to have as it highlights some of our worst issues and brings them to our attention without letting us turn away.

McAllister’s humour breaks the issues of the world into soft bite-sized chunks that are easily digested and let you see the world through his eyes. Combining the words he holds so much power over with a series of bouncing jubilant songs he proves himself once again to be an immeasurably talented musician with a mesmeric power at his command.

Beans on Toast – Afternoons in the Sunshine

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Review by Joe Knipe

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