afropunk exclusive: stream 2 new tracks from willis earl beal’s new album ‘nocturne’ #soundcheck

January 21, 2015

There is no-one in the world like Willis Earl Beal. With a voice and sound that seems perpetually out of time, the mercurial singer’s music has increasingly become the sonic equivalent of a 50’s pulp sci-fi cover: a desolate and hauntingly beautiful landscape that you can’t help but be captivated by. On his latest record, Nocturnes, Beal seems to be gazing up at the stars five minutes before the world ends.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

From the synth strings and pianos of opener ‘Under You’, Beal is in full spaced-out ballad mode. His blues stomps from Nobody Knows are nowhere to be found. Instead, Nocturnes focuses on ambiance and tension. A palatable sadness haunts this album, rich with songs about heartbreak and loss. ‘Flying So Low’ features one of Beal’s strongest hooks of his career; a song begging to be remade with a small woodwind section.

The first taste of Beal’s understated guitar work pops up on ‘Lust’, a song about the tension between internal sexual desires and external expectations. In hyper-macho America, it’s rare for a singer to grapple with questions of what’s normal, and whether that even matters, so frankly. One of the most compelling things about Beal’s music has always been his unbridled honesty. He’s an artist whose music never feels calculated or mechanical. The record closes on a surprisingly optimistic note with ‘Midnight’. Over a minimal beat, Beal offers the antidote to the haunting loneliness that permeates so much of Nocturnes. It’s midnight after a party, and “now it’s time to hear the wind’s faint call.” The song is a call to abandon your worries and “just run.”

The record is available on Electric Soul Records January 22nd in a limited edition run of 300 copies. For your copy, send a money order for $10 to:

The Church Of Nobody
P.O. Box 8094
Lacey, WA 98503