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Robert Earl Keen Tells Bittersweet Love Story on 'The Rose Hotel'

Robert Earl Keen performs on stage during concert tour

Robert Earl Keen performs on stage during concert tour

Keen released his first CD, 'No Kinda Dancer', in 1984. He soon gained worldwide fame for both his literary story-songs and raucous live shows. Keen's 10th studio release is 'The Rose Hotel' and it opens with another memorable tale. This one about a missed connection.

The Rose Hotel is the bittersweet story of a romance that almost was.

Robert Earl Keen made his name with a series of albums full of memorable stories. His most-covered song might be "The Road Goes On Forever," about two other star-crossed lovers on a crime spree.

On The Rose Hotel, he continues in that tradition, coming up with an album full of songs that is a mix of the funny, clever, and heart-wrenching original stories fans come to expect from the Texas native. There are also two covers on the CD. One is Townes Van Zandt's "Flyin' Shoes." The other is a duet with Greg Brown on Brown's "Laughing River," the story of a minor league baseball player and life after he leaves the game.

Longtime fans might detect a slightly different sound to this CD. Part of that can be attributed to the fact that Robert Earl Keen is working with a new producer. Fellow Texan Lloyd Maines is in charge of Robert's first studio album in four years. It was recorded with Keen's road band of more than a decade and a few other friends in a studio outside of Austin, Texas.

Another highlight on The Rose Hotel is Robert Earl Keen's tribute to The Band's Levon Helm, "The Man Behind The Drums."

Since this is a Robert Earl Keen CD, not all the songs on The Rose Hotel are serious. "Something I Do" is a good example of the more playful side of the songwriter. It's an ode to doing nothing at all, perhaps a new anthem for underachievers everywhere.