Texas-born singer/songwriter Robert Earl Keen has influenced a passel of younger performers during his 30-year career. On Undone, we have an opportunity to hear how these young’uns interpret his material.
Recorded live, the tracks capture the fire and excitement of young musicians exploring new territory. Undone features Keen compositions performed by Reckless Kelly, Jason Boland, Chris Knight, Muzzie Braun, Bonnie Bishop, Matt Skinner, Walt Wilkins, and others. And it concludes with five cuts done by Keen himself.
Identifying standouts among the 27 selections is a daunting task, but standouts include Reckless Kelly’s rendition of “Think It Over One Time,” Walt Wilkins’ “Paint The Town Beige,” and Matt Powell’s “Travelin’ Light.” You’ll be hard-pressed to find a selection that doesn’t measure up, and most listeners will bond with multiple favorites.
Hearing Keen perform his own songs is always a treat. For hardcore fans he includes a brand-new and previously unrecorded “Goodnight Cleveland.”
The final selection on this double CD set, a 12-minute live rendition of “The Road Goes On Forever,” is by itself worth the price of admission. Cody Canada’s jivey scat-sung banjo-guitar solo takes the performance to a new level of improvisational splendor.
A portion of the proceeds from Undone go to the Center for Texas Music History. Judging by the quality of these live performances, history is already being made.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Feb. ’09 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.