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Robert Earl Keen

Previewing Robert Earl Keen's House of Blues date last December, we noted, "Since he hasn't released any new material since 2005's What I Really Mean, expect Sunday's set to be heavy on old favorites." Well, Keen made it a very merry Christmas from the family indeed with September's The Rose ­Hotel (Lost Highway), 11 new songs that already feel like old favorites themselves. The 53-year-old Sharpstown native's pen continues to get sharper with age, be it on reflective watercolor landscapes such as "Throwin' Rocks" and "Laughing River"; tuneful musician journals "Goodbye Cleveland" and "The Man Behind the Drums"; or rib-ticklers like "10,000 Chinese Walk Into a Bar." (Don't worry, it's not racist at all.) Keep an ear out for his restive cover of Townes Van Zandt's "Flyin' Shoes," and don't be surprised if the bluegrassy "Wireless in Heaven" turns into a live barnburner to rival "The Road Goes On Forever." Like Keen sings, it's "Something I Do," and he's never done it better.

 
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