(XL) Willis Earl Beal has made it from home taping to Adele’s label partly on the strength of the narrative of his “discovery,” and I’ll leave that for others to recount. I will say, however, that this is amazing sounding in no small part because Beal’s minimal, strange, poetic, soul searching underground sermons would be a lot different, and a lot more conventional, if he wasn’t crafting them in the isolation of home-taper mode, with little feedback from audience or collaborators. That his voice was found in an empty room and in the resonations in his own head explains why his prettiest and most ominous tunes are so close to each other aesthetically, and so far from anything else, and so much more appealing than “outsider” stuff that is subject to audience’s exoticizing or campy-cheerleading. Can’t wait to see if he can maintain this sublimely strange loveliness and honesty if he becomes globally adored. I’m not sure if self-identifies as an outsider, out-of-the-loop artist, I wouldn’t challenge him, but whether he does or not, I’m sure he wasn’t hip to ONO when he crafted his wares. But Beal should check them out, as it’s notable that minimalist, experimental, Gospel-enriched, African diaspora-reflecting, non-punk punk rock has been heard in Chicago prior to Beal’s beautiful noise, and I’d love to be there for a WEB/ONO double bill.