Sunday, April 1, 2012

Willis Earl Beal

Acousmatic Sorcery

Hot Charity/XL Recordings

Lo-Fi folk, blues and rap. Lo-Fi not by using vintage equipment, but because found instruments, a $20 microphone, and a cheap karaoke machine recorder was all he could afford, working as a night porter in a motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

These songs are very compelling. He makes more music, more good sound from found objects and a roughly recorded guitar than a whole band could do in a million-dollar studio. And while the lyrics speak of bad times, down times, boredom and listlessness, the music, and his singing, is so strong that a cloudy day becomes a whole world, with all a world like that has to offer.

Tom Waits, a favorite of Beal, sometimes did music like this, although a bit more produced. So did Taj Mahal, and while there is a lot of Waits here, there is also a lot of Mahal’s warm, rounded sound, too. That Beal could be placed in their context says a lot about how good he is, how talented he is, and why this album is absolutely perfect for quiet and late nights. []

Andrea Weiss

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