[one_half last=”no”]

NBHAP Rating: 2,4/5


[one_half last=”yes”]WILLIS EARL BEAL

Release-Date: 28.08.2015
Label: Tender Loving Empire

01. Under You
02. Flying So Low
03. Like a Box
04. Lust
05. No Solution
06. Stay
07. Say The Words
08. Love Is All Around
09. Able To Wait
10. Survive
11. Start Over
12. 12 Midnight



Still standing

Live sometimes just like to f*cks with you and WILLIS EARL BEAL might know a thing or two about that. Over the past years the stubborn songwriter has been everything and literally nothing. The Chicago-born vagabond even called himself ‘Nobody’, his tumblr ’The book of nobody’ and his touring band ’The Church of Nobody’. Apart from that he joined the army, got homeless, auditioned for X Factor and got divorced most recently. Eventually he built up a solo-career and after two LPs, he left his Label XL Recordings. Now he’s back with his fourth Longplayer Noctunes which was released by the independent label Tender Loving Empire from Portland. You see, WILLIS EARL BEAL has been through a lot and Noctunes is the testament of those up and down rollercoast rides life sometimes forces you to.

Flying a bit too low

WILLIS EARL BEAL might have chosen the album title to be a pun, but Noctunes really is a nocturne. The album not only sounds like the perfect soundtrack to a the artist’s kind of night (he doesn’t like interacting with people that much) but it could be also laid aside after one night. The opening beats of Under You, the vibrant bass in Like A Box and BEAL’s calm soul voice in Flying So Low promise an exciting and mysterious journey. But this journey gets stuck in a dead end because all other tracks of the album are made up of a scheme involving slow soul vocals, synthesizer beats and keyboard chords. At the beginning this really sounds like an exciting introspective ride into the dark territories of the musician’s soul but the lack of variety within those songs makes it a challenging listening experience, to say the least. And that’s kind of sad because the musician’s voice has so much power and yet his lyrics are not thoroughly compelling. The song Stay with its lyrics ‘So stay with me/ I want you to stay’ is lyrically as exciting as SAM SMITH’s track by the same name.

From the outside

Even though Noctunes features WILLIS EARL BEAL’s soulful voice and daunting synthesizer beats, the album doesn’t leave much room for diversity.  Only the catchy beats of  Flying So Low, the understatement groove in Like A Box and Survive stick out of the other album tracks. The rest is a challenging and partly monotonous mixture of ambient and traditional guitar-based songwriting. WILLIS EARL BEAL surely lived a turbulent life so far, but his music is settled. The tempo of the songs doen’t modify throughout the album. All tracks follow the same mysterious soundscape which is drawn by the slow synthesizer piano. For some genres, the lo-fi production sets the scene for the whole album. In BEAL’s case it seems as if he has to hide his enormous vocal talent behind his low fidelity gear. We understand the emotional background of this release which might have cause that specific sound but it’s a really challenging journey if you’re coming from the outside. But since his next album might sound entirely different we are willing to get over this fact.

WILLIS EARL BEAL is an artist that lives more from through his story than through his music. The introspective soundscapes of ’Noctunes’ might be very personal but also a bit too monotonous for the listener.