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New album toasts baby Beans

Songwriter, folk poet and troubadour set for tour after release of latest songs that give honest emotional accounts of the impact the arrival his daughter has made

24 November, 2018 — By Róisín Gadelrab

Beans on Toast – aka Jay McAllister – is set to launch album Bird In The Hand

AS sure as Camden’s adopted songwriter/folk poet/troubadour Beans on Toast is known to release an album on his birthday every year (December 1), then we know it’s time for our annual check-in on what Beans – aka Jay McAllister – has been up to.

This year, Jay is celebrating his 10th album with an intimate gig at Brick Lane’s Rough Trade East on December 3. He will then take the album on tour, ending back in London on February 28 with a show at The Garage.

The album, A Bird In The Hand, is a reflection on big changes in Jay’s life with the birth of his daughter having made a clear impact. Songs such as Magic, Another Year and Here at Homerton Hospital, where his daughter was born earlier this year, give honest emotional accounts of the impact the new arrival has made – the latter paying tribute to the staff at the hospital where she was born.

On Magic, Jay said: “I’ve been playing this song live for a while now, and it definitely strikes a chord, more than any song I’ve ever written, I think. After my shows, the conversations used to all be about after parties or ecstasy – now, more often than not, it’s about parenting or newborn babies, which is fine with me.”

Becoming a father seems to have affected Jay in ways he had not expected. Unusually, the prolific self-described “drunk folk singer”, has subconsciously avoided penning songs about getting drunk and has avoided swearing at all in this latest work, a fact that was only pointed out to him after the album had been mastered.

While the content of this latest release may not be as overtly political as previous records, his take on society is palpable. Songs such as Bamboo Toothbrush, tackling the issue of the plastic pollution disaster, and protest song Alexa, looking at the future of voice-activated Internet devices and the oncoming Amazon world domination, bring humorous, thoughtful observations to serious issues in Jay’s trademark style.

“I think everyone already knows where I stand on Trump and Brexit, and, if not, they can listen to my last two albums,” said Jay. “This album is more personal I guess, focusing on family and the world on my doorstep. That’s where my head’s been this last year.”

Taking things full circle, Jay returned to Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons, who produced his first album a decade ago. Lovett produced A Bird In The Hand at Church Studios in Crouch End, together with instrumental help from mutual friends including Mumford & Sons’ live drummer Chris Mass, guitarist and Dutch artist Christof van der Ven, bass from Ted Dwane and piano and production skills from Ben himself to complete a diverse album switching between folk ballads, punk bangers and swing numbers.

“I have so much respect for Ben,” said Jay. “I couldn’t quite believe he said yes when I asked him if he fancied doing another record. I presumed he’d be way too busy, but somehow he managed to find the time.

“I thought he was joking when he said he’d sorted it for us to work in the Church Studios. Not only were we in such a legendary space to record, but we also had all of Mumford’s guitars and instruments set-up, mic’ed up and ready to go. It might just be the biggest blag I’ve ever pulled. Punching well above my weight.

“The sessions had a really special magic about them and Ben took my songs into new waters. I’m well happy with the record. I can’t wait for people to hear it. I also can’t wait to make another 10 records.”

• Pre-order A Bird In The Hand at


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