All posts tagged Tom Waits

Willis Earl Beal – For A Friend


The passing of time often goes by unnoticed; days become nights, weeks become years… we see the changes happening all around us and yet we try to convince ourselves we’re not really changing too. Before you know it, you find yourself looking at a face you don’t really recognise. Today is my Birthday, and I am looking into the mirror. My immediate reaction is one of repulsion, closely followed by fascination… love and finally, relief… because I’m still here, trying to be the best person I can be.

Willis Earl Beal is trying too. An artist who speaks with an unparalleled honesty, his music touches me on a very personal level. It’s hard not to relate to a man that has seemingly lived his life searching, creating… adapting. Beal’s story so far is almost mythological.. raised in Chicago, he joined the army and was discharged, worked a succession of low-paid jobs… even spending some time homeless. He left self-illustrated flyers around town in the hope of finding a girlfriend. He auditioned for the X Factor (dropping out at boot-camp) before being signed by XL imprint Hot Charity… releasing two albums, Acousmatic Sorcery and Nobody Knows to critical acclaim. The fame that followed seemed to have a negative effect and acknowledging this, Beal retreated back into his art (and loneliness) to write his latest work; the self-produced and released Experiments In Time. This 21 track collection of lo-fi recordings breathes new life into Beal’s soulful voice, which at times echoes the warm tones of Nat King Cole. A tender vulnerability is found throughout the album, and as such makes it emphatically and heart-breakingly relatable.

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Experiments In Time: The Golden Hour is available now:

Phill Young

Tom Hickox – White Roses Red


Tom Hickox is an important figure in my life, marking the start of 6 years as a DIY promoter in Manchester.

It was never the plan to put on gigs: I began by writing for the then influential fanzine High Voltage. In the process, I kept finding new artists I wanted to help out, and putting on gigs seemed like a pro-active and exciting way to do so. Its a risky (often financially ruining) way to live but these experiences have shaped me as a person, and given me beautiful memories and friendships.

Its been a slow ascent to recognition for Tom: his debut album, the self-released Fear In a Handful Of Dust is a beautiful and undiscovered masterpiece. Hopefully these tracks will be released again in some form. Its pretty easy to throw around references to his baritone voice and storytelling songcraft (Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen) but he’s a unique talent deserving of such comparisons.

I’m delighted he’s now signed to Fierce Panda and War, Peace and Diplomacy will be released in February.

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Phill Young