Americana legend and model Texan Robert Earl Keen retired from touring in September of last year but his new release Western Chill finds the songwriter alive and well and, seemingly, very relaxed. While Keen is still making public appearances—he was just officially honored on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives and popped into Dallas’ newly reopened Longhorn Ballroom to play a tune with Old Crow Medicine Show—Western Chill makes it very apparent that retirement suits him. For most artists, dropping an album of fourteen new songs would be enough, but, proven time and time again, Keen is not most artists. (IVPR, 2023)
Currently, the only way to hear Western Chill is to purchase the entire box set. Thankfully, the box set has it all, including a 92-page graphic novel inspired by the album, a play-along/sing-along songbook for all fourteen songs, and a DVD of the Robert Earl Keen Band performing the entire new album at Keen’s Snake Barn studio space. The only thing “chill” about the release is the songs themselves. For the foreseeable future there will be no download or streaming links, so fans are encouraged to dive into the entirety of Western Chill the way it was intended: kick back, crack a cold one, sing along, and enjoy the vibe.
Pre-sales are over, but fans can now purchase Keen’s Western Chill package for immediate delivery and do not forget to stay up to date—rumor has it, REK has already finished another record.
Western Chill track list:
Blue Light (feat. Bill Whitbeck)
Waves (feat. Brian Beken)
Hello Stranger (feat. Kym Warner)
The City (feat. Brian Beken)
Bone and Flowers (feat. Bill Whitbeck)
Sweet Summer Rain
Mister Mockingbird (feat. Bill Whitbeck)
Mr. Blues on the Run
The Western Chill vibe is packed with enough surprises to keep even the most seasoned fan guessing what is coming next. The opening title track—an instant Keen classic in the easy-loping vein of “The Front Porch Song,” “Gringo Honeymoon,” and “Feelin’ Good Again”—sets the mood for the whole album, followed by back-to-back original stunners sung and written by fiddle/guitar player Brian Beken and bassist Bill Whitbeck. If variety is the spice of life, Western Chill is the Silk Road to chill with more contributions are heard from Beken and Whitbeck, as well as compositions by the rest of the band. This has all been documented on the accompanying video because true to the “featuring” tag on the album cover, this really is a REK Band affair.