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Album Review

Picnic finds Robert Earle Keen at the top of his form, telling detailed stories with remarkably simple and expressive rustic accompaniment. The record boasts a somewhat cleaner sound than before, since it's targeted at the alt-country audience who have embraced the artists Keen has influenced. Even with such slight sonic compromises, the essence of his music has not been diluted, and his emotionally direct country-folk is as affecting as ever. Of particular note is "Then Came Lo Mein," a lovely duet with Margo Timmins from Cowboy Junkies.

Customer Reviews

REK Best Album

I have ever REK album and for me, this one gets the most play. From start to finish this is a great album. I would highly recommend "Picnic" to anyone interested in Texas Songwriter music, it will surely get them hooked. Enjoy.

REK at his best

Every song on this album showcases Keen's uncanny ability to tell stories and his way with words. Undone is a fast-paced ride of struggle, being an outcast, and disaster. On "Over the Waterfall" he shows his poetic sense with lines like, "The beauty of sadness is, feeling the pain." Levelland is a love letter to the town west of Lubbock, that comes across as a backhanded complement, but if you've been there, you get it. "I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight" finds him sad and lonesome after his love has walked away, and is played in a blues format. The road weary life of a traveling singer/songwriter is chronicled in "Oh Rosie". "Runnin' With the Night" is an admission that he's "never been no daytime guy / love the neon lights". "The Coming Home of the Son and Brother" follows the general pattern of being on the road, this time discussing the return home. "Shades of Gray" is a sort of white trash epic, much like "The Road Goes on Forever" but on a much smaller scale and with three young men and moonshine, marijuana, and cattle, instead of six packs, Cubans, and a single shot 410. Romance fallen flat is put under the spotlight in "Fourth of July", so flat that they have forgotten independence day. The final track on this album is a true Robert Earl Keen track. Of course only he could write a sweet and humorous song about love and chinese food that truly works. Simply an outstanding album.

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