Willis Earl Beal
Nobody Knows
XL Recordings/Hot Charity
Street: 09.10
Willis Earl Beal = Raphael Saadiq + Janelle Monae
With his sophomore album, Willis Earl Beal has shown that he can deliver powerful hits without sacrificing the raw honesty that was delivered through CD-Rs scattered throughout Albuquerque before he got a record deal. His rise to fame is apparent with “Coming Through,” featuring Cat Power, and takes the cake on this album (but I’ll always be biased toward Chan Marshall). Her feature aside, Beal will kill you softly with his song. A lot of soul drenches the themes in Nobody Knows, and the retro throwbacks are welcome among the midst of modern music, most apparent in “Hole in the Roof.” This blend of lo-fi experimentation with studio quality production is subtle, creating a genuine composition of blues that’ll get your groove on. –Brinley Froelich