The extraordinary life of Willis Earl Beal: A story and a sound

Sometimes a good story is enough to push a musician into the forefront of attention. Sometimes the story turns out to be more compelling than the music. The life of Willis Earl Beal would be an interesting story by itself, but when told in tandem with the LP he is set to release on XL Records this April, it’s almost impossible to look away.

Beal fell out of a job in Chicago and with encouragement from a movie he once saw, decided to move to Albuquerque with hopes that it would stimulate his growth as an artist. Beal began leaving posters around Albuquerque with hand drawn portraits of himself along with his phone number. He also began leaving CD’s of his music around the city. He was really just looking for some friends, but people began to notice how talented of a musician he was.

Call the number on Beal’s flyer and he’ll sing you a song. Write him a letter and he’ll draw you a picture. This seems an interesting format for garnering attention, but it isn’t as much methodical as it is necessary for Beal. Without a computer and with rudimentary recording equipment Beal’s lack of resources only seem to encourage him more to be inventive.

A story in the Chicago Reader from July of last year cites Beal using a karaoke machine and a Radio Shack microphone to record his tunes. Some special effects were added to his tracks with the aid of a faucet and some plastic bags.

If Beal was down and out a year ago he is now the man everyone wants to meet. His debut LP, Acousmatic Sorcery, is slated for release through the XL imprint “Hot Charity” on April 3.

Head over to Pitchfork to hear three tracks from the upcoming album, “Take Me Away,” “Evenings Kiss,” and “Montony.”

And if you’re feeling spontaneous give him a call (773-295-2135).