Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions

Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions

by Robert Earl KeenRobert Earl Keen


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Robert Earl Keen has been playing the Texas singer/songwriter circuit for over three decades, and as a guy who often favors the acoustic side of the country and Americana music scenes, it's no kind of surprise that he's crossed paths with the bluegrass music community, and it certainly makes sense that he's a fan. What is a bit of a surprise is not that Keen has decided to cut a bluegrass album, but that the respected tunesmith has chosen to make it a collection of covers rather than writing a new set of songs. Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions finds Keen and a crew of top-notch pickers (including Danny Barnes, former leader of bluegrass iconoclasts the Bad Livers) whooping it up on a set of tunes that have become bluegrass standards; this isn't always bluegrass for purists (which is to say there are drums on a few tracks and the version of "Hot Corn, Cold Corn" takes serious liberties with the traditional arrangement), but the fiddles, banjos, and mandolins keep this rooted within the accepted boundaries of the genre, and the players certainly do right by the songs. Just as importantly, Keen sings these numbers with a genuine enthusiasm and a dash of swagger that suit his Lone Star attitude, with a small but meaningful helping of twang (though he dials back the strutting for pathos on numbers like "East Virginia Blues" and "Long Black Veil"). Lloyd Maines, who has worked with Keen many times over the years, produced and engineered Happy Prisoner, and he brings a warm, natural sound to these sessions, which sound like a bunch of pickers circled around a mike in the best of all possible ways. Some fans of Keen's songwriting might lament the lack of new material on Happy Prisoner, but as a performer he's in great shape here, and he makes the most of his duet spots with Lyle Lovett and Natalie Maines. In his liner notes, Keen writes, "When I listen to music I want the sound to wash over me like a wave," and at its strongest, Happy Prisoner does just that, and it's a worthwhile detour for one of Texas's best songwriters.

Product Details

Release Date: 02/10/2015
Label: Dualtone Music Group
UPC: 0803020168527
catalogNumber: 1685
Rank: 36232

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Robert Earl Keen   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin,Vocals,Guitar (Tenor),Vocal Harmony
Peter Rowan   Vocals
Lyle Lovett   Vocals
Danny Barnes   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Vocal Harmony
Rich Brotherton   Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin,Cittern,Vocal Harmony
Marty Muse   Dobro
Tom Van Schaik   Percussion,Vocal Harmony
Bill Whitbeck   Percussion,Upright Bass,Vocal Harmony
Natalie Maines   Vocals
Sara Watkins   Fiddle
Kym Warner   Mandolin
Dennis Ludiker   Fiddle
Chloe Keen   Violin

Technical Credits

Jesse Fuller   Composer
Lester Flatt   Composer
Bill Monroe   Composer
Peter Rowan   Composer
Earl Scruggs   Composer
Richard Thompson   Composer
Rich Brotherton   Engineer
A.P. Carter   Composer
Mitch Jayne   Composer
Robert Earl Keen   Arranger,Engineer,Liner Notes,Art Direction
Lloyd Maines   Producer,Engineer
Carter Stanley   Composer
Dean Webb   Composer
Marijohn Wilkin   Composer
Albert E. Brumley   Composer
Danny Dill   Composer
Mary Reeves   Composer
Charles Thompson   Composer
Jimmy Rodgers   Composer
Pat Manske   Engineer
Cindy Howell   Managing Director
Renee Abel   Art Direction

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