With a name like Beans On Toast, you could be forgiven for assuming that the music of Essex-born Jay McAllister would be light-hearted, upbeat and perhaps even somewhat frivolous. And you’d be partially right. The fact remains though, that while the music of Beans On Toast is certainly delivered with humour and a smile, much of it also carries a message we’d all benefit from listening to.
‘Cushty’ is McAllister’s ninth studio LP, and follows his usual format of an annual December 1st release, and, like much of his previous releases, strikes the perfect balance of protest music and folk-inspired storytelling.
Though far from being preachy, its politics are worn proudly, and ‘Cushty’ wastes no time in establishing them. Opening track ‘Open Door Policy’ is a six-minute observation on modern day society, one that suggests things aren’t as rosy as the record’s title suggests. Thankfully, though, the balance is quickly restored with ‘Jamie and Lilly’ a love story that finds its pleasures in the smaller things in life, a theme continued with ‘The A303’, an ode to one of Britain’s best-loved roads.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Beans album without a certain degree of whimsy, and here it’s manifest most obviously in the form of ‘The Unlikely Gymnast’, a track which sees Beans’ vow to “get myself a spandex suit” and “learn to do a somersault” following a drunken promise. ‘Taylor Swift’, on the other hand, is a feel-good honky-tonk that finds Beans on Toast answering the question: If you could have a drink with anyone, dead or alive, fictional or non-fictional, who would it be?
That ‘Cushty’ manages to balance its left-leaning politics so expertly with light-hearted humour and genuine good old-fashioned fun is a testament to Beans’ ability as a song-writer. And though it does little to deviate from an already-established formula, it really doesn’t need to. After all, if it aint broke, why fix it?
By this point, most people know what they’re getting from a Beans On Toast record, and ‘Cushty’ ticks all those boxes. And though not breaking any boundaries, part of the Beans On Toast’s appeal is that he doesn’t try to, resulting in records that brim with energy and infectious charm, traits ‘Cushty’ has by the bucket load.
Words: Dave Beech
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