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What I Really Mean

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iTunes Review

For twenty years Robert Earl Keen has carried the torch for the cowboy intellectual, and the refrain of “Broken End of Love” epitomizes his idiosyncratic writing style: “What am I gonna do about this / It ain't no metamorphosis / It's the cold and bitter broken end of love.” What I Really Mean carries on the best traditions of his songwriting, even as it polishes his approach. Now 50, Keen has matured as singer. He has massaged the nicks from his voice, and “What I Really Mean” and “The Dark Side of the World” contain his strongest, richest singing to date. “For Love” and “What I Really Mean” are two of Keen’s most gentle, faithful pieces, but the album also contains his signature vignettes of comic misadventure, especially “A Border Tale” and “Mr. Wolf and Mamabear.” Keen can spin a wonderful yarn, but his affection for his characters always shines through. “Ride” is a portrait of a middle-aged woman’s newfound freedom, while “The Great Hank” is a great tribute precisely because it has more to do with Keen’s autobiography than Hank Williams’ biography.

Customer Reviews

Better than Onions!

I live in Little Rock, and have seen REK three times at a local bar that he claims was his first gig ever! My wife and I love the guy and have had his tunes as the soundtrack to some of our best times. This album is one of his tops! Thanks REK! Drop us a line or tickets to your next gig at Juanita's!

REK is back

Huge Robert Earl Keen fan and I have every cd. This is his best CD since No. 2 Live Dinner and its about time. Great Lyrics and its just Robry Keen at his best. You can't go wrong with this one.

He gets it...

I'm becoming an REK fan and I absolutely love "Ride", he's got a great delivery, and puts to music a lot of people's thoughts..... give it a listen.


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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