For the past eight years, the 1st December has been greeted with a new album from folk singer/songwriter, Beans on Toast, also known as Jay McAllister. Beans’ new album Cushty comes out right in the middle of a huge UK tour with label mates Skinny Lister allowing a lot of the new songs to be given first outings.

Throughout all of Beans’ albums (the ones I’ve given a full listen) there has always been a wonderful blend of tongue in cheek simplicity and a seemingly genuine awareness of the political, economical and social landscapes. This is no different with the new album, opening with the fantastic ‘Open Door Policy’ – a 6 minute wander through Beans’ (self described) ’worries of the world’. It is of course laced with Jay’s light hearted personality whilst remaining honest and sincere.

Having lived in Nottingham for most of my life, it’s no surprise that ‘Major Oak’ quickly became one of my favourite songs from Cushty. Once again, what is an important message is delivered in such a simple, sometimes humorous manner, that it’s really easy to listen to but you’re left feeling empowered to stand up for whats important. This is very much the same for ‘The House that Austerity built’ which I personally believe is the best song on the album.

Anyone who knows of Beans, or has seen him perform may be aware he describes himself as old romantic, so it’s no wonder we are treated to love songs ‘Jamie and Lily’ ,’The A303’ and ‘The Sun, the moon and me’. Clearly written by a man in love, who understands the love of a companion, these songs are a really sweet departure.

The production is similar to all the previous Beans albums, excluding last years ‘Spanner in the Works’. A number of the songs are the classic ‘One man and his guitar’ sound we’ve come to know and love, whilst the remaining tracks have a selection of different folk musicians. It’s great to see that Beans has managed to take the full band on tour, so we can all hear the songs as they are on the album.

Cushty seems particularly heavy on the political side sometimes, but when Beans’ has formed his career around being an honest, outspoken performer it’s not at all surprising. This may put some listeners off, although the songs are delivered with such melody and clarity, it’s hard not to join in.

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