The outsider mixes satire and sweetness on surprise release

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Willis Earl Beal - 'A Place That Doesn't Exist'

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Willis Earl Beal – ‘A Place That Doesn’t Exist’

Last year, Willis Earl Beal, a US army vet who was patronisingly marketed as a singing hobo after he signed to XL in 2012, said of his brush with the music industry, “My experiences make me want to be a nobody again.” The unexpected self-release of these eight songs just four months after his last album, ‘Nobody Knows’, is a statement of intent after his European tour was pulled, against his wishes. More a collection than an album proper, ‘A Place That Doesn’t Exist’ finds Beal in a similar sonic place (blues, soul, street folk) to ‘Nobody Knows’, but there’s added anger and confusion. The deeply satirical ‘Toilet Parade (Ode To NYC)’ wouldn’t be out of place on a recent Scott Walker album, and on ‘Hazel Eyes’ he sings, “Everything is falling apart”. But there’s sweetness, too, on lullabies ‘The Axeman’ and ‘Babble On’, lending truth to Beal’s claim that, “All I can say about these songs is that they’re tinted in gold… they all have a crackle.”

Phil Hebblethwaite

Details

Director:Willis Earl Beal
Record label:Self-released
Release date:29 Jan, 2014