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Robert Earl Keen

What I Really Mean – 2005 (Koch Nashville)

Reviewed by Rick Teverbaugh

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CDs by Robert Earl Keen

Robert Earl Keen is a Texas singer/songwriter and while that won't tell you a lot about his style of music because there is much diversity in that rather large subset of musicians, it will give you a perspective to his viewpoint. That view involves pushing envelopes and doing whatever is necessary to keep him from getting bored and to service the songs.When stepping up to the plate and taking a rip, sometimes he makes contact, most times in fact, and occasionally he doesn't. His last release was whiff. This new one, while not a home run, is certainly an extra bagger. "What I Really Mean" is a dark venture, both from the standpoint of the characters chronicled and themes presented.Keen has always been a champion, in song at least, of those just a little bit off-center. "The Wild Ones" and "The Great Hank" focus on the characters involved and "A Border Tragedy" on the storyline. His vocals are as good and expressive as ever. His band is tight and always on top of every note.There's much to like here even if most of it leaves you with no clue about what he really means. His songs have always left much interpretation up to the listener, and these 11 songs follow that lead.