Robert Earl Keen
Date of Release: 30 August 2011
Produced by Lloyd Maines
MSRP: $9.99 (CD), $18.98 (Vinyl)
It seems that if you want intelligent lyrics, you have to listen to alt.country...but if you want fun, uptempo arrangements, you must resort to mainstream country. I'm quite thrilled that Ready for Confetti reminds us we don't always have to choose. The title track, "Ready for Confetti," "I Gotta Go" and "Who Do Man" are all just fun to crank up, and after just one play through the album I already was learning some of the lyrics and can easily see this being a sing-along album.
The opening "Black Baldy Stallion" sets the tone for the entire album; an uptempo track with a peculiar sound, and a story about returning to a lover across the border.
Slidin' down the canyon on the black baldy stallion
Through the rocks and the ridges of the cold dark night
Shinin' like a diamond from the belt of Orion
Is it your imagination, is the end in sight?
With that opening stanza, we're off and we know what this album is all about. My personal favorite cut is "The Road Goes On and On," in which REK just completely tears into the kind of "countrier-than-thou-art" mainstream artist we've all come to resent. The lyrics are scathing, but the arrangement is sheer fun. Even if you don't have a vendetta against anyone in particular for whom this song would apply, I suspect many will adopt it as a vicarious sort of lashing out.
This is an album suited as much for a party with your friends as for the drive home from work. Those red lights and traffic jams will be a little more tolerable with Ready for Confetti.
Keen wrote most of the album himself, with the following exceptions: "Waves on the Ocean" was co-written with Dean Dillon; "Play a Train Song" was written by Todd Snider and the album-closing "Soul of Man" is credited to William M. Golden/Traditional and arranged by Keen.
Incidentally, the vinyl is really neat looking. The records are translucent, with multi-colored streaks running throughout that evoke the appearance of confetti. I don't at present have a functioning record player, but I suspect these will look really cool spinning around. It's a double-record set, but only three sides have music. I can understand not recording more songs just to fill a fourth side, but it might have been nice to have thrown in maybe a brief interview with Keen or something like that.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of the Lost Highway Fancorps team and received the vinyl and CD free in exchange for promoting this release. I was only asked to promote the fact the album was coming out; I was never directed what to say about it.