Robert Earl Keen

Texas Platters

Robert Earl Keen

Gravitational Forces (Lost Highway) Robert Earl Keen may be a new labelmate of Lucinda Williams, and more of a modern-day Lone Star folk hero than ever, but nowadays he'd rather be on the back 40 than the Top 40. That's what he says on Gravitational Forces' opener "My Home Ain't in the Hall of Fame," at least. Elsewhere, his eighth album is so world-weary that the cranked reading of well-worn standby "The Road Goes on Forever" is probably there just to close on a relatively sunny note. That's no easy feat with a song involving drug trafficking, double-crossing, and multiple murders, but one made understandable by the near-palpable regret of "Fallin' Out" or simmering fatalism pervading "Not a Drop of Rain." Keen does Johnny Cash's "I Still Miss Someone" like it's a deserted cantina past closing time, the jukebox his only earthly companion, then he's tossing them back with Langston Hughes' ghost in "Goin' Nowhere Blues." (Speaking of ghosts, just try and listen to the steel chorale of Townes Van Zandt's "Snowin' on Raton" without getting chills.) Helping lighten the mood somewhat are the good-hearted drifter of "Hello New Orleans," twirling two-step of Terry Allen's "High Plains Jamboree," and the palate-cleansing sinner's blues of "Walkin' Cane." Oh, and the title track. Straight out of the Chris Gaines "Star Trippin'" file, it's a Shatneresque spoken-word riff on the temporal distortion of a four-hour sound check -- lacking only a bongo-banging, beret-clad beatnik, but positively hysterical all the same.


More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Will Johnson
Hatteras Night, a Good Luck Charm (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, April 14, 2017

Texas Platters
Darden Smith
Everything (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, April 14, 2017

More by Christopher Gray
Texas Platters
The Last Soundtrack (Record Review)

July 6, 2007

Texas Platters
Low Pining (Record Review)

July 6, 2007

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)