Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Robert Earl Keen|
A Bigger Piece Of Sky
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop, Rock
Robert Earl Keen is the Sam Peckinpah of the singer-songwriter movement. Almost alone in a field dominated by "sensitive" types, Keen is willing to write songs about America's--especially his native Texas'--obsession with ... more »
Robert Earl Keen is the Sam Peckinpah of the singer-songwriter movement. Almost alone in a field dominated by "sensitive" types, Keen is willing to write songs about America's--especially his native Texas'--obsession with guns and violence. Although he is often pigeonholed (and not without reason) as a comic songwriter, guns are all over his fourth album, A Bigger Piece of the Sky. Keen is not a great singer (he sounds like Jerry Jeff Walker with a cold), but he is one of the best lyricists in a state crawling with them. Keen's "Jesse with the Long Hair...," for example, is a Peckinpah movie condensed to three succinct verses. It stars wanted-man Jesse, his ambivalent girl friend Luann, his old pal Sheriff Paul and the corrupt banker Mr. Brown; you may have to listen several times to figure out what happens when all four pull out their guns. "Blow You Away" is a more modern tale of paranoia; each verse describes an everyday scene (stopping at a gas station, cashing a check at the bank) that could suddenly erupt into violence. The violence never comes--and the song, appropriately enough, doesn't have a chorus--but Keen's voice and Marty Stuart's mandolin keep increasing the tension. The album also includes a lovely romantic duet with Maura O'Connell and ends with three fine songs about a Corpus Christi drunk, a rodeo rider and a desperado turned fisherman, all growing old gracefully. Nonetheless the highlights include "Here in Arkansas," the complaint of a recently murdered man rendered ghostly by George Marinelli's slide guitar, and "Whenever Kindness Fails," an explanation of why the singer uses his gun to teach simple courtesy. Joe Ely covered the latter song on his last album, and if Keen can't hope to match Ely's vocal, at least he can surround the song with others of the same strange sensibility. --Geoffrey Himes
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Taco | Texas Flatlands | 02/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Arguably my favorite Keen disc, from back in the days when you could actually go to an REK show and hear him sing his songs himself. It's discs like this one that have made that impossible - now it's hard to hear Keen's voice over the crowd's singing. Both the crowd and Keen sing a little flat, and maybe a little off-key at times ... the best thing is that his unique voice only makes his songs better. Each track on this disc is listenable ... with more than half of them being superb Keen songs. "Whenever Kindness Fails" is the best this album offers, for me; its theme hits home ... one of those songs that makes you feel like an artist wrote it for you. "Amarillo Highway" is a great take on the Terry Allen original, revved up and stomping when REK sings it. The tale of long-haired Jesse is a classic Keen story, even better than "The Road Goes On Forever" (that surpasses it only in popularity). Of course, "Corpus Christi Bay" is on this disc ... along with "Crazy Cowboy Dream" and "Paint the Town Beige." Some Keen discs may have bigger hits. Some Keen discs may be less eclectic, more consumer-oriented. But this disc has more quality REK material than any of his others. This disc is a must-have for any quality music junkie. Buy it ... you'll see."
Keen At His Best
Brian Peters | Ft. Worth, TX | 09/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is without doubt my favorite REK cd. Every song on the album is masterfully written and Keen's ability to tell a story is phenomenal. True to Keen's form, Bigger Piece of Sky's songs are filled with colorful characters yet boast a complexity rarely seen in modern country. Whenever Kindness Fails and Here in Arkansas are especially gripping. If you are unfamiliar with the artist and wish to hear him at his best, look no further - Bigger Piece of Sky is as good as it gets."