Willis Earl Beal
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The story of Willis Earl Beal is quickly becoming the stuff of legend. And while it’s impossible not to get caught up in the details—the hand-drawn flyers, the $20 microphone, the X Factor appearance—one would do well not to overlook Beal’s actual music. His debut album Acousmatic Sorcery is a strange patchwork of hushed confessionals, ragged blues, and—for better or for worse—rap. Beal’s dynamic voice, which goes from an almost-whisper on “Evening’s Kiss” to a gravelly howl on “Take Me Away,” is his most important instrument. Not originally intended for widespread listening, Sorcery is raw, unrefined, and has its share of missteps, but these are an exciting reminder that Beal’s story is only just beginning.