thu 20/06/2024

CD: Robert Earl Keen - Live Dinner Reunion | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Robert Earl Keen - Live Dinner Reunion

CD: Robert Earl Keen - Live Dinner Reunion

Generous servings of Texan honky-tonk classics

'A line of cold beers, a quart of chili and a Saturday night crowd would be the appropriate accompaniment to this superb set'

Way back in 1996 Robert Earl Keen issued an unexpected career bestseller in No 2 Live Dinner, and this new double live set marks a joyous, star-stacked return to John T Floore’s place, 20 years later, drawing on three decades of songcraft, alongside live cuts from his most recent studio set, 2015’s Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions.

Floores Country Store in Helotes, Texas, is a honky-tonk, barbecue café and bar dating from the 1940s, set on the Old Bandera Road up in the hill country north of San Antonio. As such, a line of cold beers, a quart of chili and a Saturday night crowd would be the appropriate accompaniment to this superb set, scattered as it is with guest stars including Lyle Lovett and Joe Ely, and with songs that shine like gemstones – “Gringo Honeymoon”, “Lonely Feelin’”, “Corpus Christi Bay” and his calling card as a songwriter, “The Road Goes on Forever” – which are also the kind of songs that got Keen elected into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame back in 2012 (along with Lovett and the late Townes Van Zandt).

He cut his own swathe through the post-Outlaw landscape of Texan country music

Keen is one of the great Texan troubadours, who, like Willie Nelson, tried to break the Nashville mainstream but found his success back in a Lone Star State of mind, and with poet-compadres such as Steve Earle and Van Zandt, cut his own swathe through the post-Outlaw landscape of Texan country music.

The first CD, Plate One, has a more acoustic focus, with Lyle Lovett stepping up to guest on “T for Texas” and “This Old Porch”, while Plate Two – the sleeve art is fantastic, by the way – lets rip with electrifying versions of “Amarillo Highway” and, with Joe Ely at the mic, a brilliant “The Road Goes on Forever”. One of the great story songs of this or any era, and with a subtlety and tartness to its small-town, outlaw romanticism that draws you right into its barbed heart, it’s the ultimate album and set-closer. “Thank you for writing that song,” hollers Ely at the end, as the crowd at Floores breaks into a hollar of "Robert Earl Keen, Robert Earl Keen, Robert Earl Keen". You’ll want to join in. 

@CummingTim

It's scattered with guest stars including Lyle Lovett and Joe Ely, and with songs that shine like gemstones

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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