12 Songs, 50 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though Robert Earl Keen is considered a leading practitioner of “alt-country,” that only goes to show the irony of the music world in 2009. Keen and many of his fellow “alt” brethren are hardly performing anything near an “alternative” to country music. But where Nashville and mainstream country music in 2009 often puts its emphasis on big, rock-like guitars and larger than life stage shows, songwriters like Robert Earl Keen, with producer Lloyd Maines, break out the lap and pedal steel guitars and let their country twang tell stories of people who live complicated lives. Townes Van Zandt’s “Flyin’ Shoes” features a modest rock-guitar drive amidst its forlorn pedal steel guitars. “Throwin’ Rocks” maintains a tough rock shuffle. Billy Bob Thornton guests for the joke tune “10,000 Chinese Walk Into a Bar.” Keen’s trademark stories and pathos comes through with “On and On,” “Village Inn,” “Wireless In Heaven” and the title track, where mandolins, fiddles, banjos, and accordions further things along.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though Robert Earl Keen is considered a leading practitioner of “alt-country,” that only goes to show the irony of the music world in 2009. Keen and many of his fellow “alt” brethren are hardly performing anything near an “alternative” to country music. But where Nashville and mainstream country music in 2009 often puts its emphasis on big, rock-like guitars and larger than life stage shows, songwriters like Robert Earl Keen, with producer Lloyd Maines, break out the lap and pedal steel guitars and let their country twang tell stories of people who live complicated lives. Townes Van Zandt’s “Flyin’ Shoes” features a modest rock-guitar drive amidst its forlorn pedal steel guitars. “Throwin’ Rocks” maintains a tough rock shuffle. Billy Bob Thornton guests for the joke tune “10,000 Chinese Walk Into a Bar.” Keen’s trademark stories and pathos comes through with “On and On,” “Village Inn,” “Wireless In Heaven” and the title track, where mandolins, fiddles, banjos, and accordions further things along.

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