Nobody Knows

Nobody Knows

by Willis Earl Beal


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Modern-day troubadour and genre-flipping songsmith Willis Earl Beal had one of the more compelling debut albums of 2012 with Acousmatic Sorcery, a collection of tunes whose emotional gravity outweighed their lo-fi presentation. With sophomore follow-up Nobody Knows, Beal returns with a much slicker recording style, but with the same shifting restlessness that marked his debut, moving from throaty gospel pop to dirty blues rock to noisy experiments as the album progresses. Never quite as unhinged as the home recordings that made up his debut, the songs on Nobody Knows all benefit from the clarity of a well-oiled studio, but Beal's self-production (credited as "Nobody" in part of a hard-to-read narrative that flows through the album and its liner notes) keeps things somewhat loose even in the most defined moments. Some of those well-defined moments include the clear standout of "Coming Through," a rootsy, rocking soul tune featuring Cat Power's Chan Marshall trading call and response backing vocals with Beal, who takes on the role of a shouty preacher over the song's laid-back groove. Glistening orchestration on more sorrowful tracks like "Burning Bridges" or the cascading, piano-based ballad "Blue Escape" are a far cry from the karaoke-machine basement recordings of earlier work, but those beginnings are never too far from the surface. The haunted, shortwave radio-noise blues of "Disintegrating," or the demented, horny lyrics of "Too Dry to Cry" point to the more anarchic elements of Beal's ever-morphing personality. Taking cues from everyone from Tom Waits to Screamin' Jay Hawkins to Daniel Johnston, Beal continues the eclectic and wild streak he began on his debut, but takes it into more refined, if not completely more accessible zones with Nobody Knows. It's hard to tell if the album feels angrier and grittier than its predecessor, or if peeling off the layers of lo-fidelity actually reveal an artist more raw and without rules than we first perceived.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/17/2013
Label: Xl Recordings
UPC: 0634904070120
catalogNumber: 40701

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Willis Earl Beal   Primary Artist
Jim Duffy   Drums
Cat Power   Vocals
Greg Hirte   Strings
Matt Dewine   Synthesizer,Bass,Guitar,Percussion,Keyboards
Jahphet Landis   Bass,Percussion
XXXChange   Percussion,fender rhodes
Kristina Dutton   Strings
Jason Eckerson   Synthesizer,Bass,Guitar,Keyboards
Andra Kular   Strings
Teddy Rankin Parker   Strings
Robbie Hamilton   Percussion
Rodaidh McDonald   Bass
Ray Suen   Violin
Christopher Caluya   Synthesizer,Keyboards
Ben Clarke   Synthesizer,Bass,Guitar,Keyboards,Slide Guitar
Cara Lane   Piano,Tack Piano,Toy Piano,Hammond B3

Technical Credits

Joby J. Ford   Additional Production
Matt Dewine   Producer,drum programming
Jahphet Landis   Composer
XXXChange   Engineer,Additional Production
Jason Eckerson   Composer
Rodaidh McDonald   Composer,Producer,Horn Arrangements,String Arrangements
Jamie-James Medina   Executive Producer
John Foyle   Engineer
Willis Earl Beal   Composer,Poetry,Producer,Artwork
Douglas Posey   Management
Ben Clarke   Composer
Cara Lane   Composer

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