Chicago-based blues singer, multi-instrumentalist and sketch artist Willis Earl Beal made a stir last year with his idiosyncratic back story – after bouts of homelessness and terrible jobs, he’d advertised his artistic skills on hand-drawn flyers and offered to sing down the phone to anyone who called him. To cut a long story short, he ended up being called by XL, who released Beal’s debut album ‘Acousmatic Sorcery’ last April.
While the lo-fi, DIY aesthetic of his early work was part of his appeal, though, Beal has since gone on record saying that he wants to put together a cleaner, more professional album that really shows what he can do. Today, it seems he’s fulfilled that wish, with the announcement that a second album, ‘Nobody Knows’ is on its way in September, with the first single, Everything Unwinds, available to stream below.
Immediately, it’s apparent why Beal might have felt any dissatisfaction with the music he’s put out before in comparison to this soulful track; warm, engrossing and thrillingly expressive, this intimate recording gives life to the artist’s rich voice unlike anything he’s released before. While it still picks up little movements and inflections that mark the recording as endearingly imperfect, the new sound culminates in a soul song that engulfs you like an instant classic, and marks its singer as a talent worth watching out for this year.