Beans on Toast made his career spinning yarns on stage, and he carries this onto the page in his second book, ‘Foolhardy Folk Tales.’
Stream: ‘Knee Deep in Nostalgia – Beans on Toast
To listen to a Beans on Toast song is to feel like you’ve made a new friend. His endearing tone and honesty to the point of TMI make it feel more like your sharing a pint at his favourite local rather than wearing headphones an ocean away. From the second you crack open his second book, Foolhardy Folk Tales, it’s clear this conversational tone carries onto the page.
At a glance, Foolhardy Folk Tales is filled with the kind of stories you’d find in most musician’s non-fiction essays: Drugs, touring, and having no money are the backdrop for most of his tales. Yet that’s all they stay; a backdrop. Jay McAllister — Beans’ real name — is aware of these clichés’ tired nature and chooses to use them only as a set from which he can pontificate on the difference between lying and blagging, or his Dragon’s Den worthy “Get Rich Quick” chapter (this reviewer is particularly enthralled with the idea of 50p toast at all major music festivals.)
His chatty nature never ceases, while his ability to tell a story becomes palpable in the way you can’t turn the pages quickly enough during “The Great Tesco Robbery.” While it would be cruel to state whether it’s true or not, it may be one of the most entertaining opening chapters in non-fiction history. Clearly McAllister is a man who’s made his career spinning yarns in smoky bars and stranger-filled nightclubs.
Perhaps most enjoyable however, it the book’s upbeat, optimistic tone. While you’d never particularly call McAllister a pessimist, he isn’t one to shy away from a cynical, f*ck the government tone, or a verse about “the way things really are.” Obviously conscious of the pandemic world it’s been release into, Foolhardy Folk Tales is short on politics and heavy on laughs and hope. McAllister is getting his legs under him both personally and financially, and there’s an infectious joy that comes through the page and makes you smile—and to quote McAllister’s “Art of Friendship”: “Isn’t that what art’s supposed to do?”
Foolhardy Folk Tales knows what it is and sits comfortably in it. It’s not really a memoir, nor a career retrospective—McAllister is neither arrogant nor finished enough to do either of those things. Rather, it’s a quick 167 page read that feels more like a letter from your old pal Beans than a stranger’s rambling. And isn’t that we really wanted this to be? A confessional artist that has famously put an album out every year on his birthday—December 1st—checking in with a summer letter for you to enjoy.
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