CD Review: Larry Keel, Experienced

Hot dang, boys, did that taste good!
Let’s fill ’em up again.

OK, you’ve had about 2 weeks to get a copy of Larry Keel’s Experienced and give it a listen. Read this CD review and see if you agree with me.

As a novice guitar player, I really enjoy listening to (preferably watching) a good player play. Maybe you feel the same? Larry Keel is one of those good players. Man! My dad told me one time there’s some things you see one of, and you want to see ‘em all. Folks, find yourself a good picker, and then keep finding new ones. Larry’s a good one to start with. He’s a talented guitarist and songwriter who’s been been at it a long time without getting stuck on one note.

The Larry Keel Experience (Larry Keel, Jenny Keel, and Will Lee), with the help of the likes of Del McCoury, Sam Bush, Peter Rowan, Keller Williams, Anders Beck, Mike Guggino, Jason Carter, and Jeff Covert, has delivered 7 songs that encompass many of life’s emotions on Experienced. The CD opens with the instrumental “Ripchord.” This song has been in the Keel rotation for a while and is a high-energy instrumental full of fast picking and the kind of bass line that syncs up with a person’s pulse and then takes over the heartbeat bringing one to a near euphoric arrhythmia. Incidentally, this instrumental is the longest track on the CD.

Up next is “Lil Miss,” a dirty little track with a baby making bass line and some trippy guitar effects peppered in with a bit of banjo. When clean, Larry’s guitar sings a pretty song accented by his voice which sounds like he’s been gargling bark and barley. “Memories” is a pleasant tune with mild harmonies and a different, cleaner side of Larry’s voice. The picking is beautiful. This song begs for a walk in the sunshine.

Larry Keel: ExperiencedLarry Keel: Experienced Track Listing

Ripchord – 6:09
Lil Miss – 4:22
Memories – 4:00
Fill ‘Em Up Again – 2:55
Miles and Miles – 4:37
The Warrior – 4:38
Another Summer Day – 4:47

“Fill ‘Em Up Again” starts off like a shotgun blast protecting a moonshine still. This is probably my favorite track on the disc. So much good picking. Del McCoury lends vocals to this track – “Hot dang, boys!”

Another great picker shows up on the next track, “Miles and Miles.” Keller Williams was one of the first pickers to mesmerize me, and he does not disappoint here. He and Keel have a long-running collaborative partnership, and their styles merge to make this a spacy yet Earthbound track.

Experienced finishes with 2 tracks that take us from dark to light. “The Warrior” combines low, breathy vocals with native Indian sounds to tell the story of a warrior on a journey of self-discovery and a quest for knowledge. “Just Another Summer Day” recounts the peaceful beauty of a day before we realize the beauty is really that of love and friendship.

With a long record of amazing picking and songwriting, it’s a testament to his artistry that Keel has not bent his style to meet any expectation that was not his own. He pushes what is commonly accepted as bluegrass to a point where it bulges at the middle like a belly after a home cooked meal. Eat it up, folks.

Dan Fugate

Dan Fugate is marketing director for Blues Angel Music in Pensacola, Florida. He is also administrative director of the nonprofit foundation of the same name. Husband, father, and Cub Scout leader, Dan is also co-host of the Beer & Bros. podcast, an audio-only podcast where he and his brother-in-law drink beer and discuss the week's news.

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