In what is surely the most unconventional way this site has ever received music in the 10 years of its existence, I recently got a CD-R and a handwritten note from "Nobody" in the mail. The album, to be called Turn when it's officially released, is a new project from the prodigiously-talented Willis Earl Beal. Following on from his last wonderful album, this new one is also something special.
Still, I'm left with the odd task of reviewing something that is a few months away from being released.
Called Turn, the album opens with the Scott Walker-like "Stroll" which segues nicely into the beautiful "You", all early-Seventies Marvin Gaye bits filtered through a post-Kid A approach to making music. Beal -- or should I say, Nobody? -- is here making music that is effortlessly blurring genre boundaries. If "Lonely" is more traditional -- though only slightly so -- "Believe" is more elegiac and atmospheric. "Feel" is the closest thing to a straight-up pop song one is going to find on Turn, while "Release" takes things in another direction, the glory days of 4AD bands here as stylistic influences. Nobody's music is all centered around Beal's voice as that is the star of this show. If a tune feels slight, that perception is cast out by the fact that that voice will at least offer something beautiful for a listener to grab onto. That voice is joined by guest vocalist Symona Meer on the positively gorgeous "Time", a alternately mournful and soaring track that follows the jittery beats of "Cowboy" on Turn.
At this point in a review I'd share a link to buy the album, a notice about the release date, or a Soundcloud or Bandcamp link. Nope. Not this time. Now you'll just have to take my word for it that this new offering from Nobody (FKA Willis Earl Beal) is a special record. Turn is a fine showcase for this vocalist and performer's considerable talents. Defying easy categorization, the music on Turn is something you need to make sure you purchase for your library. More details available soon here.