12 Songs, 44 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The story is a good one. Beal is said to have recorded this album on a karaoke machine with a $20 microphone while working nights as a hotel porter; he then promoted himself with hand-drawn fliers that included his home address and phone number. Whether the story checks out, the music here is primitive and evokes the sounds of Daniel Johnston, The Moldy Peaches, and lesser-known "outsider artists." Yet the songs are surprisingly conventional once one attunes to the barebones sound. Beal's voice is pleasant, and his lyrics paint pictures in unusual cadences. "Sambo Joe from the Rainbow" takes Bill Callahan's downbeat approach and adds a touch of sunshine. "Ghost Robot" turns in a primitive rap song that makes Beck's lowest-fi recordings sound polished. "Swing on Low" goes even further into automated sound. "Away My Silent Lover" comes across world-weary, with "Take Me Away" turning to blues via Tom Waits. This clearly isn't for everyone, but for those who enjoy the unusual and a challenge, Willis Earl Beal is an enigma worth figuring out. 

EDITORS’ NOTES

The story is a good one. Beal is said to have recorded this album on a karaoke machine with a $20 microphone while working nights as a hotel porter; he then promoted himself with hand-drawn fliers that included his home address and phone number. Whether the story checks out, the music here is primitive and evokes the sounds of Daniel Johnston, The Moldy Peaches, and lesser-known "outsider artists." Yet the songs are surprisingly conventional once one attunes to the barebones sound. Beal's voice is pleasant, and his lyrics paint pictures in unusual cadences. "Sambo Joe from the Rainbow" takes Bill Callahan's downbeat approach and adds a touch of sunshine. "Ghost Robot" turns in a primitive rap song that makes Beck's lowest-fi recordings sound polished. "Swing on Low" goes even further into automated sound. "Away My Silent Lover" comes across world-weary, with "Take Me Away" turning to blues via Tom Waits. This clearly isn't for everyone, but for those who enjoy the unusual and a challenge, Willis Earl Beal is an enigma worth figuring out. 

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