A Bigger Piece of Sky

A Bigger Piece of Sky

by Robert Earl Keen


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Arguably his finest record, Robert Earl Keen's A Bigger Piece of Sky is a transitional album for him -- he begins to evolve out of the terrain of his organic small-town Texas songwriting comfort zone and to walk the knife's edge between a more expansive meld of roots rock, honky tonk country, and Western back-porch folk. Keen is an inheritor of that particular brand of songwriting that Jerry Jeff Walker established in the 1970s, where the good times and wandering life of a minstrel are juxtaposed against a small-town view of a confounding world. Produced with crisp attention to detail by Garry Velletri, Keen's songs observe the smaller details in a private life, whether that life remains in the same place mentally and physically or, because of some mercurial and difficult-to-place event, slips over the line into forbidden territory. Both kinds of songs are here. The album opens slowly with "So I Can Take My Rest." This is Keen at his very best. He records loneliness, uncertainty, and the vulnerability of a man at his limit, one who seeks only simple solace in the evening to get through another day. The acoustic guitars, whispering snares, and organic bassline drift and drone, propelling the singer to disclose his fear and need. And though tender and subtle, its effect is sharp, going straight for the place in the heart that wakes at night wondering if it is understood by anyone. But there's also the rollicking working-class blues of "Amarillo Highway" and "Corpus Christi Bay," the pathos-drenched country-rock of "Whenever Kindness Fails" and "Blow You Away," and the shimmering uptempo country outlaw tome "Jesse With the Long Hair," which is akin to a honky tonk version of Bob Dylan's "Lilly, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts." But there are other songs here, too, like the slick Western swing of "Daddy Had a Buick," the old-timey country of "Crazy Cowboy Dream," and the lonesome, sultry love song "Night Right for Love," a duet with Maura O'Connell. And to close the set there is the tender, introspective acceptance of the title track, which reflects upon the life of a former hell-raising drifter who has settled in -- despite his continued restlessness -- to the peace of mind of small-town life with no regrets but an itch in his craw. This is the best kind of country song, where the desperado comes in from the cold to begin again; it's succinct, gently humorous, and universal in its view. This is Keen at his very best. If you can only have one Robert Earl Keen disc, this is the one to consider.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/08/1993
Label: Sugarhill
UPC: 0015891103723
catalogNumber: 1037

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Robert Earl Keen   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Marty Stuart   Mandolin
Bryan Duckworth   Violin
Dave Durocher   Percussion,Drums,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
David Heath   Bass,Background Vocals,Upright Bass,Vocal Harmony
George Marinelli   Guitar,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Maura O'Connell   Vocals,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Jennifer Prince   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Jay Spell   Accordion
Tommy Spurlock   Acoustic Guitar,Pedal Steel Guitar,Gut String Guitar,Lap Steel Guitar
Garry Tallent   Bass,Percussion,Electric Bass,Drums,Bass Guitar,Upright Bass
Jonathan Yudkin   Violin
Michael Snow   Banjo,Guitar,Drums,Vocals,Background Vocals,Bodhran,Tenor Banjo
Dave Heath   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Terry Allen   Composer
Jeff Coppage   Engineer
Dave Durocher   Producer,Audio Production
Robert Earl Keen   Composer
Maura O'Connell   Duet
Garry Velletri   Producer,Audio Production
Peter Figan   Back Cover
Ray Strang   Paintings,Cover Art

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