Folk music has always been about telling stories. Well, it used to be. Today anyone armed with an acoustic guitar is pigeon-holed as being ‘folk’ and, whilst there’s plenty of valid examples out there, there’s few that do the definition of folk music justice like Beans On Toast. Trying To Tell The Truth follows on from Beans’ previous two efforts, and it’s here that he’s managed to perfect his craft.
Whilst, his debut, Standing On A Chair was rough and ready, it had a lot of charm (a lot like the man himself). It’s these songs that endeared him and his music to the people. Last year saw the release of Writing On The Wall and whilst it was a better produced, more scaled back, effort, it lacked that little something that made the first batch of tracks so great. With this record, Beans has managed to split the difference – creating a polished collection of twelve, very British, folk songs. Just don’t go in expecting something all rose tinted glasses.
Granted, there’s a few on here that try to paint a perfect picture – ‘Peter Pan’s Playground’ says “Hi!” – but, for the most part, Trying To Tell The Truth is a really honest record. Not only that, but Beans manages to cover a range of topics that some would choose to ignore, including: buying new shoes, over population and blowjobs. Each song offers up something clever and comedic in equal measure, with very few dull moments. Despite this, my favourite track covers something a little more traditional. ‘My New Number One’ is a simple, catchy, love song about “Lizzie B” – presumably Beans’ other half – which everyone should be able to relate to.
Beans On Toast might not have the best voice in the world, or masses of technical skill, but his songs are honest and simple, and that’s what makes them great.