Robert Earl Keen

Gringo Honeymoon

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Framed by smooth production and tasteful instrumentation, Robert Earl Keen, Jr. hands over ten more tunes on this 1994 release. Gringo Honeymoon is more lively and immediately likeable than previous efforts and includes all Keen originals, save Steve Earle's "Tom Ames' Prayer." Keen transports the listener to Texas with his stories and the overall tone of the record. But it's not big-hair Dallas that calls, it's the back roads and small towns that form the landscape. From the toe-tapping shuffle of "Think It Over One Time" to the sweeping grandeur of "Lonely Feeling" to the eye-winking swing of "Barbeque," Keen paints the scenes one by one. With the sly humor of "Merry Christmas From the Family," he sketches, in great detail, a dysfunctional family that many may recognize. (Not unsurprisingly, Jill Sobule covered this spirited number for a holiday sampler disc.) Gillian Welch adds her lovely voice to "Lynnville Train" and "The Raven and the Coyote." Both are tales of aching hearts that do well with her gentle harmonies. Overall, Gringo Honeymoon is pretty closely in step with Lyle Lovett and Nanci Griffith. If you like either of them, give this one a try.

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