Robert Earl Keen
The Rose Hotel (Lost Highway)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Oct. 16, 2009
Robert Earl KeenThe Rose Hotel (Lost Highway)
After more than 20 years of delighting live audiences, Robert Earl Keen has become a highly respected Texas singer-songwriter. So naturally he does a rock album next. The Rose Hotel mirrors the Band – it even contains "The Man Behind the Drums," a tribute to Levon Helm – winding through American music and telling distinctively American stories with self-confidence and wry wit. There's a buoyant take on Townes Van Zandt's "Flyin' Shoes," and boss folkie Greg Brown shows up for a brisk duet on his own "Laughing River." Keen and his band are uncommonly locked in, whether on the island-bound "Something I Do," bluesy "Throwin' Rocks," or honky-tonk smiler "Wireless in Heaven." Surprisingly, it's the first time REK's worked with producer Lloyd Maines. With a sound this large and breezy, they ought to be checking into this Hotel again soon.