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Gravitational Forces

Robert Earl Keen

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Album Review

If anyone needs to be convinced that Robert Earl Keen is the reigning champion of Texas twangers, Gravitational Forces makes one forceful knock-out blow. The disc paints a multitude of vivid pictures backed by memorable melodies and superb instrumental backing. Keen delivers his goods early and often, starting with the singalong chorus to Joe Dolce's "My Home Ain't in the Hall of Fame." It's not perfectly clear what exactly he's singing about in the chorus — something about his home and his songs on Top 40 radio — but with a hook so infectious, you'll mumble along anyway. Of course, none of these tracks are destined for Top 40 radio, but they're surely bound for glory in the realm of Americana. The colorful duo in Terry Allen's "High Plains Jamboree" typify Keen's penchant for vivid caricatures. Few of us — hopefully — can relate to a honky tonk woman with gold teeth and a family man who spends a night at the motel lounge with her while his wife's at home. But Keen's portrait of these two slightly unwholesome but otherwise common folk brings them home like a crazy uncle, a bit on the edge but loveable just the same. After all, these two are just looking for a good time. And that's precisely what Keen delivers throughout this stellar release.

Biography

Born: January 11, 1956 in Houston, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Among the large contingent of talented songwriters who emerged in Texas in the 1980s and '90s, Robert Earl Keen struck an unusual balance between sensitive story-portraits ("Corpus Christi Bay") and raucous barroom fun ("That Buckin' Song"). These two song types in Keen's output were unified by a mordant sense of humor that strongly influenced the early practitioners of what would become known as alternative country music. Keen, the son of an oil executive father and an attorney mother, was a native...
Full bio