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Hard to Say Goodbye | Washed Out Listen Live

Robert Earl Keen, ‘Ready for Confetti’

By Stuart Munro
Globe Correspondent / September 5, 2011

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The line is that, because he abandoned his usual method of songwriting - instead of woodshedding, he wrote whenever and wherever the mood struck - this is a different Robert Earl Keen record. While the songs do at times manifest a different character - there are few story songs - “Ready for Confetti’’ is far from a radical departure. Songs that display Keen’s off-kilter perspective (the joyous yet cryptic title track, a series of leavings that end badly in “I Gotta Go’’) are balanced by the earnestness of “Lay Down My Brother’’ and “Show the World.’’ His biting wit is served up via “The Road Goes On and On,’’ a kiss-off rumored to be aimed at a country singer accused of borrowing from Keen’s “The Road Goes On Forever.’’ Musically, Keen adds touches of reggae (“Waves on the Ocean’’), jazzy swing (“Top Down’’), Little Feat-like slide-guitar and barrelhouse-piano strut (“Who Do Man’’), and gospel (“Soul of Man’’) to his usual turned-up twang and loping ballads. “Ready for Confetti’’ may be a little different, but it’s still very much Robert Earl. (Out now)

ESSENTIAL “Soul of Man’’