Robert Earl Keen – #2 Live Dinner
They sure do know how to hoot and holler down in Texas, and to sing along to Robert Earl Keen songs, too. But a good rowdy show doesn’t mean the live recording will make a good record, and in this case, #2 Live Dinner is Keen’s worst disc. His voice has never been his strong suit; the full backing band here just makes it sound thinner and narrower. The two new songs, “When The Bluebonnets Bloom” and “I’m Going To Town”, are throwaways. In the energized concert settings, the darkness and cynicism of “The Road Goes On Forever” seems lost on a crowd that shouts out every chorus — and while the humor in “Merry Christmas From The Family” and “Five Pound Bass” is invigorating, after a sample like this I worry that Keen will be remembered more as a novelty act than as one of the finest songsmiths in recent memory. Here’s hoping the latter will be reflected his upcoming major label debut, as he recently signed with Arista Texas.