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Alt-folk troubadour Beans on Toast twisted an age-old genre with a D.I.Y. approach and contemporary concerns. The musician, real name Jay McAllister, first came to the public’s attention after opening Glastonbury Festival in 2005. As a self-professed “drunk folk singer,” McAllister quickly found a home and an audience on the festival circuit, but it wasn’t until 2009 that he released his debut record. Fans’ patience was rewarded with Standing on a Chair. It was a sprawling, 50-track record that set out McAllister’s stall as a teller of tales concerning matters of the heart, politics, and drink and drug use. Despite his low-key and often humble approach, he attracted some notable names for its recording. Mumford and Sons’ Ben Lovett produced the album, and fellow Londoners Emmy the Great and Frank Turner provided backing vocals on a couple of tracks.
Given the relatively slow gestation period of his first record, the subsequent follow-ups came with an uncharacteristically disciplined regularity. Every year following the release of Standing on a Chair, the singer/songwriter released an album on December 1, which also happens to be his birthday. In 2010, he put out Writing on the Wall, which he co-produced with Ian Grimble; the follow-up, 2011’s Trying to Tell the Truth, was produced by Frank Turner; his fourth studio album, Fishing for a Thank You, led to a headline slot at London’s Scala, and 2013’s Giving Everything landed him a spot on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart. Subsequent years saw the release of The Grand Scheme of Things and Rolling Up the Hill, in which he continued to plow a furrow of smoky-voiced, acoustic guitar-backed musings. 2016 saw the return of McAllister with his eighth studio recording, A Spanner in the Works.