"I am a somebody."

As big an indictor as any that said person is in fact an ultimate twatbag, hellbent on proving their divinely bestowed self worth to the world (See Gaga, Will.I.Am, Example etc). What then, does one marketing themselves as a 'nobody' suggest? This nobody actively participates in animating his own short films - blowjobs, breasts n all.

He leaves illustrations around Chicago with his telephone number, serenading whoever calls with a personalised rendition of one of his tracks. His live shows are nothing short of revolutionary, taking everything so far back to basics that it feels as if it's never been seen before. By shunning the world around him, and the paths trodden by the 'hotly tipped' and 'next big thing' artists within it, Willis Earl Beal has emerged as one of the single most exciting things in music.

He first made a name for himself back in 2012 with debut album Acousmatic Sorcery, yet for all of his no bullshit intrigue, you couldn't help but feel the record didn't fully reflect his true potential. Elements of it were great, yes, and it stood out one thousand miles from anything else being released at the time, but it felt a tad underproduced, and if anything, a little too minimal. For all of its worth, it was a difficult listen. The fact that it didn't do him justice was further confirmed when I first saw him live, a show that still (100 or so gigs later) sits pretty up top as the most intense performance I have ever witnessed. Fast forward two years, and a new album sits in my inbox, titled Nobody knows. I'm excited, hopeful and a little nervous, yet after just one listen, it's as clear as day that his potential has been realised.

Everything feels incredibly refined. Tracks have been practised together to make a cohesive body of work, and whilst the lo-fi foundations remain, there is a brand new polish on the record that serves only to push the music forward. There seems to be a much stronger filtration device working over the process of making the album, one which is almost instantly paraded with the album opener, 'Wavering Lines'.

Having floated around YouTube for two years in a raw a capella format, this song is a wholly different beast. It keeps the lone vocal at the start - albeit with a much cleaner, more soulful execution - only to add much lower pitched lyrics below as the track rolls on. A sweeping chime slowly comes into the mix, not daring to take anything away from Beal's voice - the atmospheric stakes suitably cranked up to 11 with a couple of string hits appearing at the end of each line. These separate elements all eventually come together to quicken the pace, and just as you think it's about to explode into full chorus, it finishes. Heart resides firmly in mouth, fire has been lit.

Taking note from this intro and lead single 'Too Dry to Cry', I have a feeling we're in for a real emotional brooder, recalling the spine-tingling moment when Beal began to cry mid Joolsy Holl performance. In a typically melancholic northerner sort of way, this makes me incomparably happy. Imagine my surprise then, when effervescent toots are met with a motown-esque spoken word start on 'Coming Through'. It's like Marvin Gaye, Tom Waits, Gil Scott and Barry White just went for a brandy and cooked up a hit - and by God (contextual gospel pronunciation) is it a hit. Cat Power is on hand to lend her skillset, as the duo breeze through the New Orleans number. The chorus repeats "the truth is coming through" followed by classic him/her dialogue that surely (in 2013) should not work - "One more verse, Honey." I mean, we all knew that Willis had more soul than Hades' fucking underworld, but it's the first time it has been moulded into this sort of entity. Pulling away from the mysterious rarities market he's pledged himself into, this is an all out old fashioned dance number, that could (and should) be a number one.

Compared to these two, the rest of the tracks do hold a little less surprise, which in no way takes away from the LP. 'Everything Unwinds' utilises the same DIY string instrument feel as the first album, whilst the two following tracks opt for dainty keys to push across the sombre mood. Military drums force more depth in some places, with powerful, slightly taboo lyrics fattening things out elsewhere. The bluesiest release of the year comes to the fore with 'Too Dry', handclaps and a chanting chorus momentarily transporting the listener to 18th century Colonial 'murica.

As well as being just plain powerful, there's a seductive undercurrent that runs not only through this track, but the album as a whole. If seductive means forcefully, sexually charged, that is. There are mentions of inches, pitchfork pumps, white panties and the taking off of dresses to name but a few - yet not once does it feel cringeworthy nor vulgar. There's a certain authoritative delivery to the phrases that deems it almost respectable, relatable even.

The second half of the album gets even stronger. With what is certainly the best track of the year to be named 'White Noise' - a soft guitar swells and dips, as the initially floaty vocal pitches to "die a million deaths." The chords take an unexpected, off-kilter turn, word pacing teeters on the edge of rap, then all of a sudden his voice mutates into a monstrous snarl. It is a style that reappears in the grooving 'Hole in the Roof', abstracted into a sort of ecstatic shriek post chorus. 'Blue Escape' provides the last unexpected route, Beal writing what can only be described as a purified, lighter-inducing ballad. A piano slowly makes it's way down the keys, violins crying in the background then plucking themselves back up to repeat the cycle. It's quite a lovely moment, yet it fails to provide the intensity seen elsewhere.

The title track is as dark as any, quiet hi-hats teaming up with finger clicks as the verses only instrumentation. There's a sort of isolated walk home in the early hours of the morning feel here, with ominous clouds of soundscape galore filling the mind as the percussion plods on in a sinister manner. 'The Flow' takes the trophy of final impact though, giving us one last chance to witness Willis Earl Beal's strongest asset - aside from his backstory and a truly effortless cool, it is the mans voice that creates so much interest. Aided by some superbly ambiguous lyricism, his talent is most noticeable when the track gives enough room to achieve that quick vocal jump from soothing crooner to knock-your-teeth-out bellow. The speed of the metamorphosis can sometimes take you by surprise, the power doing so every single time.

For once, an artist seems to have perfected every single progression hoped for in between records. Instead of overcomplicating things to within an inch of their lives, or continuing on the exact same path of the debut, Willis Earl Beal has relentlessly perfected his craft and presented it as not to lose any of the integrity we first encountered. An interview suggests that there were 130 demos brought forward for this album, yet once whittled down to 13, every track stands up on its own two feet, whilst bending genres throughout. It is testament not just to the quality of the record, but also the authenticity of the artist.

In a generation crying out for real, genuine music idols, Beal has begun staking his claim as to why he could well be one of the very last contenders. Right at the death of the record, his voice whispers "I am Nothing, and Nothing is Everything." A manifesto from a nobody, I sit in hope that what he says is the truth - Beal deserves to be a superstar.