He has played for presidents and garage sales. According to Robert Earl Keen, the audience for his songs is much brighter than critics may think, and it doesn’t matter where they might be. The Texas alt-country hero is now 56 and is not looking back…..except to remember his worst job ever: blowing up balloons and selling them out of the back of a truck for Valentine’s Day. Well, a lot has changed for him since then. His new album, Ready For Confetti, features some real gems, and he has been nominated as Best Singer-Songwriter in the Folk Category in the Lone Star Music Awards (April 1, 2012).
The album’s first song has the power to be on his concert set list forever, “Black Baldy Stallion.” It’s about someone returning home to a love he never should have left. Instead of a car or train he rides a horse which allows for description of the western landscape set in an imaginary past. In our minds, we’ve all ridden that horse and the whimsical imagery helps put us in the saddle. The song opens with a beautiful classical guitar played in a Spanish style which embellishes the mood.
“I Gotta Go” is an amusing commentary about America’s addiction to being busy. “We never stop,” says Keen, “we’re always on to the next thing.” Think about your own life in the past 10 years, or in just the last year, or even today — we are constantly racing it seems. Though there is nothing wrong with having goals, do we take time to enjoy our accomplishments? Though there is nothing wrong with multi-tasking, but do we always finish every task? Maybe a song like this one will make us stop, if only for a moment.
The album even features an attack. Keen’s most famous song may be “The Road Goes On Forever.” Toby Keith, according to Keen, came up with a similar song — too similar — and Robert has accused him of plagiarism. These events have been made public not in a lawsuit, but in a new song called “The Road Goes On & On.” The accusations and name calling are biting and hilarious all at the same time. And like any good poet, the writing is not restricted to the writer’s inspiration. Any one listening can use this song as bullet to anyone else who has been unfair.
The album closes on a more positive note with a delightful message about goodness and giving called “Show the World.” There is nothing clichÃ© about this song, and there is nothing wrong about being reminded that we each have the power to do something nice for others.