Video: Willis Earl Beal - 'Evening's Kiss'
"Can't see the wind but I see the trees sway..."
We hadn't even heard of Willis Earl Beal before the start of the year. Since then, the jack-of-all-trades Chicago native has had all the right people tweeting his praises. He's also been profiled extensively, and was subsequently whisked off to New York and snapped up by XL (home to the likes of Adele, Vampire Weekend and The xx). The influential label will now put out the singer's debut LP, Acousmatic Sorcery – recorded using a battered karaoke machine against a jarring maelstrom of tape hiss – via its fledgling imprint Hot Charity on April 2.
Beal certainly has no shortage of musical ideas – songs aired to date incorporate a melting pot of blustering soul, bedsit indie and spine-tingling gospel – nor things to say, for that matter (he's already stated his aim of becoming "the black Tom Waits"). There's also a (seemingly genuine) backstory involving fanzine-style flyers and the singer answering fan requests down the phone from his grandma's basement.
The next fortnight will see the buzz surrounding the 27-year-old start to seriously swell as he embarks on a brief run of intimate UK dates, with no fewer than four London shows lined up. The trek begins this evening at the 80-capacity Power Lunches Arts Café in Hackney, but don't bother looking for tickets - the show is already sold-out beyond belief. You should have better luck with one of his other gigs, details of which are listed below.
Debut single 'Evening's Kiss' is a stunning piece of stream-of-consciousness songwriting that's bound to stop you in your tracks if you haven't yet heard it. A lo-fi breeze of lyrical nuggets tied to a deceptively simple melody, it sounds a bit like a pre-Sub Pop Sam Beam covering Jeffrey Lewis. Beal has illustrated and directed the (briefly NSFW) accompanying video himself, as he has done for Acousmatic Sorcery's artwork. Check out the 'existential sketch' cartoon promo below, then go and buy the 7" and pre-order the album from XL.
WILLIS EARL BEAL // Spring UK Tour
Feb 28: LONDON @ Power Lunches ***SOLD OUT!***
Mar 2: MANCHESTER @ The Trof
Mar 3: LEEDS @ Nation of Shopkeepers
Mar 4: LONDON @ Notting Hill Arts Club (Communion night)
Mar 9: LONDON @ The Victoria (Swamp Dance night)
Mar 13: LONDON @ Sebright Arms