grass (Custom).jpgKeller & the Keels
&copy: 2006, Sci Fidelity

A couple weeks back, I was fortunate enough to get a copy of Keller Williams and the Keels’ new album, Grass, for review.

I’ve been a long-time Keller Williams fan so I was a little unsure of how I would react to this album. I tend to have a small problem trying to whittle an album down into a 100-word review, especially considering some albums lend themselves to that format and some frankly do not.

Not exactly knowing what to do next, I went into a half-assed free-association exercise in MS Word until I had some words down that I enjoyed. Then, I set it down and vowed to return to my words weeks later once the album had truly been absorbed. Here’s my account…

Goof Balls – classic Keller if you ask me; great tempo and just a great album opener

Another Brick in the Wall – performed this live plenty of times but definitely a treat to get a complete grass rendition. The bring-down at the end into the final verse is solid, and the chorus is interesting and powerful all at the same time…

Mary Jane’s Last Breakdown – this was the highlight for me at his 12/30/05 performance…this was towards the end of the set and it just got the house rockin’. I love that he’s taken some of his standard loop antics and completely converted it to a classic-sounding bluegrass album.

Stunt Double – slow pickin’ and Keller storytellin’.

New Horizons – Jeff Austin tune and some great faster picking on this one. Keller really lends his whole voice to this track…

Loser – “holy Beck tease…” into one of my favorite Dead tunes…

Crater in the Backyard – Good Keller tune…

Dupree’s Diamond Blues – Another Dead cover?

Overall, I’m really impressed at how true to the Keller sound this album is, even with the more bluegrassy Jenny and Larry Keel backup. I’m so used to Keller by himself that I suspected the backup would just change the sound enough to make it sound different than Keller…

That’s not the case here. This album is true to form, it’s Keller’s bluegrass style with some great accompany…it’s really an excellent bluegrass album and a yet another great, Keller Williams showcase, including his affinity for covers, humor, bluegrass, vocal inclination, and everything else. Everything, except loops.

Local – I’ve heard this one plenty of times live and it sounds better on the album. It’s less rushed and a little more of a chorus with Keller getting backup vocals from the Keels. “Feeling the goods on a sunny day makes me feel alright…”

I’m never one to go ahead and condone a pot reference in the music, especially considering that 311 ruined that for all of us, but Local is still a fun song.

I’m Just Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail – I love the blues side of bluegrass, as it’s definitely more prevalent than my untrained bluegrass ear understood as commonplace.

Update: As a bonus, sample some recent tracks from Keller & the Keels live from 1/27/06 (source).

If you’ve got an album that you think could use the Free Association treatment here on the Live Music Blog, send it my way.