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West Textures

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Album Review

Some singers write songs and some songwriters sing. Robert Earl Keen, Jr. falls into the latter category. Unlike his pal Lyle Lovett, who has an extraordinary talent for both crafts, Keen's main strength is his writing. (He studied journalism, after all.) Sure, he can sing just fine, well enough to build a solo career, in fact, but his songs often shine a little brighter when performed by more versatile vocalists. Nevertheless, West Textures marks Keen's third outing and is a fine collection of tunes, most of which are original compositions. Like Nanci Griffith and Steve Earle, Keen's style lies somewhere between alternative country and contemporary folk. Filled with acoustic guitar, Dobro, fiddle, mandolin, accordion, and upright bass, West Textures is a pretty consistent set with a handful of standout tracks. "The Road Goes on Forever" and "Don't Turn Out the Light" jump right out on the first listen thanks to their peppy, catchy melodies. With further attention, "Leavin' Tennessee," "Maria," and "Love's a Word I Never Throw Around" should get the kudos due them, as well. A songwriter's songwriter, Keen gets an A for effort.

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...
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West Textures, Robert Earl Keen
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