'What I Really Mean' continues in the strong vein of what people expect Robert's music to be raw, down-to-earth alternative country music. It has material that crosses over into Americana, AAA, mainstream country, Texas, college and alternative radio markets. What I Really Mean is being heralded as Robert's best record to-date! Koch. 2005.
Few songwriters are as cinematic as Robert Earl Keen. In the tradition of Keen's classic "The Road Goes on Forever" and "Merry Christmas from the Family," his eleventh album finds the Texas troubadour transforming indelible characters, vivid description, and narrative drive into movies for the ear. He delves into the surreal with "The Great Hank," a spoken-word barroom vignette that features Hank Williams in a time warp (and in drag). He turns a fable about animals into a tale as dark and twisted as film noir in "Mr. Wolf and Mama Bear," and enlists a vocal cameo from Ray Price
and a serenade from Mariachi Estrella to provide the soundtrack for the droll story of cantina overindulgence in "A Border Tragedy." Even the tender title song, about the touring musician missing his wife, shows his eye for evocative detail, with one of Keen's warmest vocals to date. Produced by his bandleader/guitarist Rich Brotherton, the album's musically expansive arrangements match the ambition of the storytelling, with guest banjo from the Bad Livers
' Danny Barnes, a lovely soprano sax by John Mills on the title cut, and Celtic pipes from E.J. Jones on "The Traveling Storm." Keen may well expand his audience along with his musical range, as the uptempo "The Wild Ones" could pass as a John Hiatt
cut, while "Broken End of Love" has an echo of Tom Petty
. --Don McLeese