Texas singer/songwriter Robert Earl Keen, Jr., is joined by a couple of compatriots on No Kinda Dancer, co-writing "The Front Porch Song" with Lyle Lovett and "Swervin' in My Lane" with Nanci Griffith. (Griffith provides a countermelody lyric that she obligingly sings herself.) These partnerships are appropriate, since Keen has something of Griffith's close sense of observation of Texas people and scenery, and something of Lovett's off-kilter sense of humor. Most of the arrangements employ bluegrass instrumentation, over which Keen sings in a sonorous tenor, revealing himself as an unreliable narrator who is well meaning, but susceptible to drink and wayward behavior. That narrator interacts with some other colorful characters who are sometimes funny and sometimes touching, making for a unique world-view that is also identifiably Texas-oriented. The 2004 reissue on KOCH includes three more appropriate additions, among them "The Coldest Day of Winter," a love story ending in romantic death, and "The Vacuum Cleaner Song," an absurd set of reflections on life, furniture, and cleaning instruments.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann