Robert Earl Keen: Ready For Confetti
Robert Earl Keen and his producer, Lloyd Maines, did a nice job putting together Ready For Confetti. It gives us some new-feeling stuff (like a reggae-styled tune called Waves On The Ocean), revisits some older stuff (Mr. Keen remakes Paint The Town Beige, the “title” song from 1993’s Bigger Piece Of Sky) and pays respect to a younger peer in the alt-country world (covering Todd Snider’s Play A Train Song). On top of all that, the record gives us Keenish tunes like The Road Goes On And On (no, it’s not that “Road” song, but it’s a slap at Toby Keith for ripping that song off with his Bullets In The Gun) and I Gotta Go (which you can hear below, but it’s about going and being gone). The album closes with a very nice version of a traditional gospel song, Soul Of A Man, which is one of two songs Mr. Keen often uses to close his shows, instruments unplugged (the other is Live Forever).
Keen knows his craft, his audience and how to have fun. I saw a recent interview where he talks about being “the Milton-Bradley game of entertainment” and being okay “for everybody from 8 to 80.” I suppose that’s a good way of thinking about him and about this record. One of my fondest memories of Robert Earl Keen was seeing him at a street festival years ago and watching my third son (about 10 at the time) make an attempt at something close to dancing as Mr. Keen closed out the show with The Road Goes On Forever. Earlier in that same show, a bunch of college students and some gray hairs (like me) sang along with Gringo Honeymoon so loud you could barely hear Mr. Keen. That’s the way his shows are. Ready For Confetti seems like a good album title for a fellow like that, doesn’t it?
I said you could hear I Gotta Go, so here that song is, performed live at last year’s Key West Songwriters’ Festival:
Here’s a nice version of Paint The Town Beige, done just a few days ago. Keen says he “grew into the song” (he’s in his mid-50’s now) and wanted to re-record it. Pretty nice video here, which includes a bonus song, I’m Coming Home:
Todd Snider and Mr. Keen have been tied together for years by Mr. Snider’s song Beer Run, which concludes at a Robert Earl Keen concert as our heroes sing along with “the road goes on forever and the party never ends.” Moreover, Mr. Snider is a kindred spirit in many ways, and is certainly proving himself to be a songwriter who’s in it for the long haul. So it’s fitting that Mr. Keen covered one of Mr. Snider’s songs on Ready For Confetti. Here they are together, doing Play A Train Song:
So to sum it up, Ready For Confetti’s a keeper. It’s a must if you’re a Robert Earl Keen fan and a recommended try if you’re new to him. Enjoy.
Ready For Confetti is a Lost Highway record. It is dedicated to the memory of Dan Carter Cauthorn.
Mando Lines is on Twitter @mando_lines.