A decidedly interesting character, Jim Keaveny: born and raised on the banks of the Missouri river, begins early to roam all over the United States and not just that, collecting a series of extreme experiences (to spend 6 years in the middle of the Texas desert in a self-made house is not for everyone) that became real time musical inspiration. Keaveny, far from false, already from the very first notes revealed his musical inspirations (Bob Dylan in first for vocal style, John Prine and Kris Kristofferson for the astute lyrics and the "spoken" style): but the imagery of the frontier that underlies "Put It Together" is immense and profoundly individual. Folk music (dis)organized around a sage mix of drama, minimalism and taste for the grotesque, a formula for fun and entertainment. "Put it Together" would not sound bad as a soundtrack for certain films from the Cohen brothers or David Lynch, with his wild ballads ("Good Times," "Is It You"), recital in no man's land, (What I Ain't Got"), evocative instrumentals ("The Grand Forks"). To mix further the cards on the table he contributes an arsenal where there's room for pedal steels, acoustic and electric guitars, accordians and woodwind mariachis. It's hard to say more: we hope only that Jim Keavney will be back on the road soon and comes also to our area. We could thank him in person for the freshness of these 12 tracks of life lived.
November 24, 2017
- Il Popolo Del Blues (Italy)
HIT-TRACKS Top 100
November 12, 2017
- Music Agency PICA
"Is It You" at #02 on the charts!
02 05 03w Jim Keaveny > Is It You
TOP 100 "CD OF THE WEEK"
October 29, 2017
- Folk Radio (UK)
"Put It Together" reinforces Jim Keaveny's position as one of the most authentic dust bowl Americana artist's currently riding the trail.
September 27, 2017
- Blabber 'n' Smoke (Glasgow)
This is an album that’s been kicking around for a couple of months and on arrival Blabber’n’Smoke was pretty excited as we had raved about Keaveny’s previous album, Out Of Time, one of our top ten albums of 2014. Sure enough, it’s a mighty fine listen but it somehow got lost in the pile of albums and it was only last week we were reminded that it was still sitting there, dying to be adored. So apologies to Mr. Keaveny but here we go.
Out Of Time was a tremendous listen and Put It Together is really no different aside from having a bolder touch of mariachi on several of the songs. Keaveny remains a fine singer and raconteur, his slightly worn voice still has a hint of Dylan (circa late sixties), and at times there’s a Basement Tapes whirl to the music especially on Check You Out. He also has the fine ability to make it seem so easy to conjure up a song out of almost nothing as on the opening track, What I Ain’t Got. Here he laconically lists his possessions, ranging from his rented house and things in his cupboard to eat to a list of his band’s instruments and equipment while admitting that he’s still missing that essential ingredient. It’s a superlative song played with some excellence as the guitars dance around an accordion shuffle and really just typical of his laid-back style.
Is It You opens with a grand mariachi horn flourish and then darts along in fine style with a female chorus and the following The Grand Forks, an instrumental which again has (a wordless) female chorus and horns is somewhat akin to Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack work on Duck You Sucker (AKA A Fistful Of Dynamite). Sticking to the Mexican influence Keaveny turns in the opaque love song, Limbo And Grim (Slight Return/The Mariachi Mantra) which opens with a sigh before he repeats a mantra over delicately plucked guitar and gliding pedal steel. The song then swells into a wonderful and lengthy coda, the band sounding like a dust stained funeral procession from El Topo as imagined by Calexico. Blown Away is another song with mariachi horns with Keaveny singing of a breakup with a swell degree of insouciance despite his protestations of rethinking the whole affair. Here he recalls John Prine while the band’s playing is just so impressive with whirling pedal steel, horns, accordion and splashing cymbals all meshed into one.
There’s so much to admire here. The chicken scratching roadhouse blues of Leave This Town, just perfect for the vampire brothel in From Dawn To Dusk. The sepia toned Blue Eyes which oozes with a longing for his lover while the gospel chorus infused confessional, Good Times, is wonderfully limpid in its presentation. The title song again employs Keaveny’s heavenly chorus who echo his existential urging to get it together as the song sweeps along with a fine cosmic country rock jumble of guitars and pedal steel.
Suffice to say that Keaveny has, yet again, produced an album that stands out amongst the slew of releases that might be considered Americana. He’s gifted and really should be more feted. If anyone asks you for a reason to listen to Texan music these days then just hand them this album and stand well back.
JUST ANNOUNCED! Jim Keaveny's newest album release "Put It Together" just debuted at #15 on the EuroAmericana chart, alongside legendary musicians Chris Stapleton (#4), Willie Nelson (#10) and John Mellencamp (#27). View the June 2017 Chart.
Jim Keaveny's life experience was useful when he retired from the inhabited world and built a fully-energized modest oasis in the desert in Terlingua, TX. The isolation of the desert and proximity of the Mexican border sound strongly in his latest album "Put It Together" that was captured by co-producer Bill Palmer in Santa Fe, NM. Track What I Ain't Got is still firmly anchored in Dylan's structures with that shaky harmonica. And, in Check You Out's warm-hearted groove, that characteristic troubadour spirit can be heard, unmistakably reminiscent of John Prine.
An acoustic bass and a dartel accordion (David Barclay Gomez) provides the rhythm of Is It You, when trembling trumpets join in, we sufdenly sail away over the Rio Grande and immediately find ourselves in a sultry Tex Mex atmosphere. In The Grand Forks, the trumpet of Eric Ortiz again appears. Flanked by Noah Martinez (guitarron) and an atmospheric wordless choir, this instrumental track could well be found in the soundtrack of a dusty Western. Between that summer's exuberance, there is also room for more understated reflective moments, such as Good Times and Please Do not Underestimate My Love. A resonant steel guitar brushes a moody atmosphere in Limbo & Grim, the Mariachi orchestra gets the last word once more. Under the motto 'Put it Together' and an adventurous approach, Jim Keaveny delivers a very nice Tex-Americana piece of work.
June 24, 2017
Le Cri Du Coyote (France)
A North Dakota native, Jim Keaveny has since established himself in Terlingua, Texas. He is publishing his sixth album, which confirms all the qualities of this unappreciated songwriter. “Put it Together” was recorded in New Mexico, with vintage musicians, and you can hear it. The album, which starts with “What I Ain’t Got”, a folk-rock almost classic, with harmonica and accordion (David Barclay Gomez), a sort of inventory of what the artist needs to record an album. The trumpet (Eric Ortiz) intervenes for “Is It You”, with Tex-Mex accents that give a preview of the overall tone. Jim's rock, even punk roots remain well-presented as evidenced by “Check You Out” or “Leave this Town” in which electric guitars (Chet O’Keefe and Alex McMahon) are honored. The set is however rather laid-back with sometimes nonchalant female choruses that emphasize this aspect. In summary, this is a beautiful album to listen to on a summer evening, with a fresh drink in hand.
Apparently North Dakota native Jim Keaveny funded Put It Together by cycling some 2300 miles from San Diego, California to Savannah, Georgia, a determination to make music that’s playfully underscored by the opening track, What I Ain’t Got on which he lists everything he has that he needs to make an album and make people think “we got something.”
He does indeed have something, a troubadour’s heart and soul for a start, a strong Dylan influence for another and a collection of songs that make for a comfortable and easy summer on the highway listening. Is It You comes as a lively surprise with its Mariachi horns (asubsequent track is titled Limbo and Grim / The Mariachi Mantra and balances moody, acoustic and lap steel balladry with a rumbustious second half), while The Grand Forks weaves slide and trumpet into its heady groove.
He does a sprightly scratchy blues shuffle on Check You Out that’s shares a musical spirit with Dylan’s Tombstone Blues, contrasting that with the more soulful side of the choral-backed Good Times and Put It Together with its evocation of border-country Dylan circa Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.
Musically tied to the dry and dusty landscape of his adoptive Texas home, there’s an equally parched quality to Keaveny’s style as complemented by the likes of David Barclay Gomez on accordion and Noah Martinez’s upright bass, he spins his stories of characters in search of love, hope or a dream to hang on to, at his aching best on the harmonica-haunted Americana of Blown Away andthe heartfelt semi-spoken Please Don’t Underestimate My Love.
Playing out in a rowdy, trumpet blaringTexicana style with Six Days In A Jailhouse, this is probably best served with a long cold beer and again reinforces his position as one of the most authentic dust bowl Americana artists currently riding the trail.
June 17, 2017
- The Daily Country
Texas-based singer-songwriter Jim Keaveny's recent release Put It Together is a delightful album of twelve self-penned songs that kicks off with "What I Ain't Got" a song whose shuffling melody, accented by squeezebox and harmonica, pulls you right in. Keaveny follows that with mariachi horns in the ripe for dancing "Is It You" where he ponders, "I wonder if this thing called life just is here for us to just say goodbye", the mysterious instrumental "The Grand Forks", and the punky-soul combo of "Check You Out" which features some fine organ work.
The pace slows on the mournful "Limbo And Grim (Slight Return) The Mariachi Mantra" and the sweet, harmony-fueled, reflective "Good Times" and while "Blown Away" brings back the harmonica and documents a love affair, the rockabilly "Leave This Town" amps the energy back up a few notches.
Put It Together is rounded out by the encouraging title track, the somber "Blue Eyes" and the extended "Six Days In A Jailhouse." For more information visit HERE.
Jim Keaveny goes Mexico! The Master is no amateur on his last album, with the aesthetics of the Basement Tapes, he seeks this time his salvation in a sort of mix of styles that somehow reflect his surroundings - because Keaveny moved deliberately to rural Texas, where he lived in an eco-house built he himself, and where the Mexican border is not far away. This time het gets to the point in his songs - of course with the help of Mexican Companeros - with mariachi elements, choirs and even enriched with epic soundtrack of instrumentals from the styles "The Grand Forks". But those who like the gnarled Troubadour, Keaveny come entirely at their expense. However, one should not look for any references to the Present Time - neither content nor musical nature - because Keaveny's sound is his very own.
June 14, 2017
Jim Keaveny was born in North Dakota but lives in a remote part of the great state of Texas nowadays. Around the turn of the century he released four rather good albums, but after that he went quiet for about a decade, until he resurfaced in 2014 with the fine and appropriately titled Out Of Time. This week sees the release of Put It Together, the follow-up to that album. And people with a soft spot for legendary Texan singer-songwriters like Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Joe Ely and Terry Allen would do themselves a disservice if they didn't check it out. Their influence shines through on this record, while Keaveny brings some good stories, sardonic humor and a sharp punk edge to the table to put his own stamp on the proceedings.
Opening track What I Ain't Got is a pleasant shuffle, but it's song number two Is It You that really gets things underway, with the help of an excellent group of female backing singers and some delightful mariachi trumpets. From that point onwards Put It Together just keeps offering up one fine track after another. Check You Out, with some extra added rockabilly punch, the lament for a lost love Blown Away, the rocking yet gentle Leave This Town and the title song stand out the most, but other than that there's not a weak track to be found here either. Highly recommended.
(Translated from Dutch) If you still get the impression in the opening track on "Put It Together" that you have a moderate Bob Dylan parody, Jim makes sure in the next track what he's really cut out for. Mr Martinez, Ortiz and Gomez take their instruments to the sun. Southern Mariachi in the form of upright bass, trumpet and accordion instant brightens things up. Well we know Keaveny already from previous CDs and frankly he stirs things up real good in "Check You Out." It's the music of someone who shuns life and finds meaningful lyrics from his attic and sends it into the world. Keaveny celebrates life, including the ups and downs that come with it. Too much dwelling on a sad day solves nothing, except that you have an extra realization that everything is finite. Introspection is amply available on his latest album. Feeling man Jim Keaveny is looking at "Put It Together" fondly on "Good Times." Sensitivities don't sail away, they are like daily bread and enrich the soul, but do not need to be pointed to indefinitely.
After the critically acclaimed "Music Man" and "Out of Time" were released, "Put It Together" I feel like is Jim's most complete album. The album was created with musicians from Texas and New Mexico. It's an album that me happy. Not a complaint, but "do" album. According to the enclosed press, Jim leaves his audience in amazement. Though I would still want to go through it again, because a budget this artist has as a solo artist still can not overwhelm so than the occupation of this album takes the stage. Jim Keaveny is an adventurer. He is an all-rounder. Washed dishes, worked as a cook, fisherman, all-round handyman, gravedigger and as a carpenter (who still remember the episode of Floortje Dessing which she, Jim and his partner met in one of the most remote places on the globe, knowing that his plans were performed meritoriously). For me, Jim Keaveny remains primarily a songwriter and musician. On this last album he manifests with conviction an album that will please many people.
REIN VAN DAN BERG
June 2, 2017
The singer from Bismarck, North Dakota, now a naturalized Texan, returns with the natural follow-up to “Out of Time” which was released three years ago. Put It Together reminisces the Bob Dylan “western” sound of the soundtrack “Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid” and the album “Desire”, the most noble Woody Guthrie folk song, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, no less deep then Townes Van Zandt and Terry Allen, united by the interest in border music: these are the sounds of the tracks from Terlingua, Texas, the land of intriguing and intense stories. Mariachi, accordion, and guitar are the absolute protagonists alongside the voice of Jim Keaveny, rumpled by the sun and shaped by the desert wind.
The central characters of the almost cinematographic stories born of Jim Keaveny’s numerous trips, who at the age of 19 traveled across the United States by freight trains and his thumb.
Country music, folk, Tex-Mex and western allure are indelibly absorbed in a personality somewhat elusive, but always charming of a true troubadour, able to successfully outline the genuine humanity of the characters present. “What I Ain’t Got”, “Six Days in A Jailhouse”, “Limbo and Grim (Slight Return)/The Mariachi Mantra”, “Put It Together”, “The Grand Forks” and “Leave This Town” are a few of the most significant moments and most difficult to forget of this work, tied to the border lands between Mexico and the United States, so rich in history and often of tragic epilogues: a true palette of colors and flavors where Jim Keaveny is perfectly at ease as a pure and unadulterated storyteller. One must recognize the steel guitar (lap or pedal) of Alex McMahon, the accordion of David Barclay Gomez, the trumpet of Eric Ortiz and the guitar of Chet O’Keefe as central characters of these sessions that give the album its good compositional tone.
Those who are fascinated by this sound and these places will not be able to escape this record, the natural follow up to Keaveny’s 5th album “Out of Time”.
May 18, 2017
RATED 5 STARS! (5*****) = ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!!!
I hereby challenge you, as a lover of American singer-songwriter stuff, to not love "Put It Together" by Texan-by-Choice Jim Keaveny. That, to be honest, seems to me almost impossible. What this good man does on his six string is so incredibly good, it becomes fully irresistible.
Keaveny certainly isn't shy from mixing different styles, leading to exceptionally fresh sounding roots – he’s the total package.
From the summertime-hanging-around-Dylan-esque "What I Ain't Got,” to the draping of Tex-Mex and Mariachi elements on an easy stomp-along beat in the extremely catchy song "Is It You,” from the groovy bluesy approach in "The Grand Forks,” to the playfully nervous, almost punky (again leaning towards Dylan) "Check You Out,” from the beautiful country ballad "Good Times," to the atmospherically perfect full blood Americana jewel "Blown Away," from the already timeless song "Please don't Underestimate My Love," to the gloomy closure "Six Days In A Jailhouse," and everything in between... these are fifty-two very well spend minutes!
And I honestly don't think that this year will have many more records that I will enjoy as much as I did this one. I didn’t even talk about Keaveny's lyrics. Those are of a kind that spontaneously make you think about the biggest like Dylan, Guthrie and Van Zandt.
Really good stuff I would say! Call it old-fashioned amazing!
The spirited troubadour returns with a brand new set of songs, most are solo writes and two are co-writes. There is a storyteller at work here who engages the listener with a loose amalgam of styles that fall under the roots label. The album is co-produced by Keaveny and Bill Palmer who is also a player here and they are joined by a bunch of players who sound like they’re having fun and getting the groove right. The songs have a certain spontaneity totally in keeping with lifestyle of a wandering spirit, a man who looks at life with a wry smile and an open heart.
There is also a border feel to some of the songs with the addition of guitarrón, trumpet and accordion. There are some great vocal harmonies behind Keaveny’s engaging voice and lyrics. This feels something like a conversation in a warm sunny place with a music drifting in on the wind. Given it was recorded in Santa Fe in New Mexico that may be an intention. Those who heard his last album (or previous releases) will know what to expect and newcomers are likely to be equally enchanted. This is not chart bound music, nor is it intended to be.
There is a strong folk/country axis to the overall sound with pedal and loop steel, keyboards, electric and acoustic guitars and a solid rhythm section that are right behind the songs. There is also enough change of pace and texture to keep the album interesting. Most of the songs are over the 3 minute mark and several clock in over 5. The album opens with What I Ain’t Got which is a précis of the things in his life that he has to hand. Is It You? opens with trumpet and a lyric about the person he has in his life. It is one of the album standouts in that it sums better than words whatJim Keaveny is all about. The Grand Forks is an atmospheric song that mixes backing vocals with trumpet to create a Calexico styled instrumental piece. Also check out Blown Away, the heartfelt plea Please don’t Underestimate my Love, which is delivered in a soft and understated way. Limbo and Grim/The Mariachi Mantra builds from Alex McMahon’s pedal steel through to Eric Ortiz’s trumpet to create a soundscape that plays like the end credits of a modern day western.
Keaveny has put it together here in more ways than one and it underlines him as a fringe figure who continues to make music that recalls much but is very much owned by his attitude and his auspicious endeavors to be heard.
May 3, 2017
The Cicadas are starting to stir and click in the hot Texan sunshine. Sitting on the porch, with a cold beer, watching the sun sink slowly in the sky as Jim Keaveny starts to play. This is how this album should be listened to, however we can only dream about that in England.
Track 1 (What I ain't got) starts with guitar and harmonica and a list of what Jim has, from an old house to a list of equipment and is essentially a song about what they need to make an album. This seems to echo the struggle of an independent musician trying to record their music and find the hard to define 'something' that will gain the attention of the listening public, get airplay and so bring their music to a wider audience. All without succumbing to the commercial pressures and control of a recording contract. Indeed, Jim raised the money to record this album by cycling from Oceanside, San Diego, California to Savannah, Georgia. That is a distance of over 2300 miles and takes you from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast.
The laid back sound continues through the next few tracks, track 2 (Is it you) starting with a wonderful trumpet sound, and track 3 (The Grand Forks) with the slide guitar, the vocals and trumpet adding to the warm summery sound. David Barclay Gomez provides some excellent Electric piano on track 4 (Check You Out) which has a gentle rock beat.
My personal favourite track is Track 8 (Limbo and Grim / The Mariachi Mantra) although it is a tough call given the quality of all the songs. This starts with Jim's voice blending into some subtle slide guitar, with yet more rich and slow Trumpet adding to that lazy summer feel. After that it's time to up the tempo a little to take us through the remaining tracks.
Jim has over the years worked in a variety of jobs from Fisherman to Dishwasher, from Firefighter to Graveyard Maintenance Man, from Brewer to Carpenter. He built his own off-grid home in West Texas. He has drawn together all of these experiences into his music which has a Texas/Americana sound which will please all lovers of the genre and is also a great introduction to anyone who wants to experience Texan Country /Americana at its best.
Pass me another cold beer please….
April 25, 2017
-Fatea Magazine (UK)
Jim Keaveny's newest record "Put It Together" is easily one of the best records I've ever worked on. When you hear it, you'll know why I say that. Very few people can access such exquisite heart and point blank reality as Jim Keaveny. Jim and I assembled this ace band, mostly at the last minute, and with ice cold Tecates in hand, these gentlemen bonded tightly from the get-go. You can hear the brotherhood fastening, and it's something special indeed.
March 25, 2017
Upcoming new album from Jim Keaveny, OUT OF TIME, is a beauty. Sounds like Bob Dylan has dragged The War On Drugs kicking and screaming around dust bowl America with a car full of narcotics courtesy of Hunter S. Thompson on an hallucinatory road trip that stops off in Tijuana, Nashville, Lubbock and Bakersfield and lastly to the Catskill mountains to pick up our good friends The Felice Brothers. Real Country and authentic American Roots music is making a very welcome return via the likes of, amongst others, Sturgill Simpson, Daniel Romano and now Jim Keaveny to name but three. Yeee haaa indeed!
–Fatea Records (UK)
From his late teens Jim hitchhiked or hopped trains all around the US, finally after many years settling in Terlingua, West Texas. From the opening track ‘Eugene to Yuma’ you are taken on a train ride of his influences on this lovely mix of Folk, Old Timey Country, Tex-Mex, Blues and Garage Rock.
Think Dylan/Guthrie /van Zandt with a splash of Waits and you begin to see the landscape of Jim Keaveny’s 5th cd ‘Out of Time.’
Stand out tracks for me include ‘From the Black’. ‘Ridin’Boots’, Out of Sight’, (I’m sure I can hear Mr. Waits rasping his way through this one !) and ‘The Girl’, although I think this is a cd which will throw up new favourites every time you put it on.
If you are looking for something to re-ignite your love of Americana/Country or looking for a new road, then look no further than Jim Keaveny’s ‘Out of Time’.
NO DEPRESSION MAGAZINE
From the get-go, I knew that I was going to enjoy this album. The opening track, “From Eugene to Yuma” is a bit of a train song, in the best tradition of Willie, Waylon, and Cash, with a rocking beat, scintillating harmonica playing, and the lovely strains of an accordion swinging along like a prairie wind.
This is followed by a harmony and steel guitar-drenched love song called “From the Black” that could have come out of Sun Studios in the mid 1950s, or could at least be part of Roy Orbison’s back catalogue.
I’m already hooked like a salmon on a line, and things only get better with “I Found a Girl”, “Changing”, and “How Was I to Know?” Especially with country songs, I like the lyrics to tell a straightforward story, but sometimes I just have to let that go and let songs like “Parking Meter” and “Lucy Ain’t Got No Arms” just rock along without me reading too much into their inner workings.
While it’s a bit of a left turn compared to everything else here, my favourite track is “Someone to Talk to Blues”, as the dirty pumping beat has my hair standing on end every time I hear it. That is something that doesn’t happen often enough.
So, why have I never heard of Jim Keaveny before? He formed his first band, the Rogues, in his home town of Bismarck, North Dakota in 1991. But, like so many musicians, it wasn’t until 2002 that he actually got a record contract and that was as a solo act. Now, four albums later, we get this heady mix of honky-tonk, Tex-Mex, country and hillbilly that culls from every record he’s ever owned. I defy anyone who listens to Out of Time not to have a smile on their face and a song in their heart as the groove wears out on the sweet finale, “The Yippee-i-ay Song”, which sounds like it was recorded in a Border Cantina as the sun was setting on a Saturday night.
Often described as a country singer Jim Keaveny must be quite uncomfortable to be labelled with such limited imagination. That is not to say there is no country in his music, there is and plenty of it, but with more than hints of blues, hillbilly, classic country, a little Tex-Mex, folk and more besides, perhaps even edging into the over used singer songwriter category. In my world ‘singer songwriter’ tends to cover anyone who sings and writes their own songs and spreads from ‘pop’ into anything that is of indeterminate genre. In other words a ‘cop out!’ Certainly Jim is a tremendous songwriter and is just as good a singer, in fact reminding me of a more melodic (and younger!) Bob Dylan, (or even Joe Strummer!)but Jim has a much more fluid style that covers many of the various sub genres within the roots music field. His style is predominately rooted in an edgy country field but with his own slant on the tradition showing he is a man who is determined to follow his own route wherever it takes him. If his muse strays into other areas so much the better, and yet after very few plays of this tremendous album and despite the diversity the listener soon realizes that Jims style will stay with them and will be easy to pick out from the crowd. Hopefully this will give him an excellent chance of the success that a man with his talents so richly deserves.
This is his fifth album release and is full of melodic guitar sounds, with quite a strong accordion prescence that helps provide a warm atmosphere. The emotive harmonies do nothing to remove the excellent and hugely appealing raw edginess that is thanks in the main to his vocals that provide an excellent counterpoint to the melodic blend of instruments whilst still enhancing the melodicism. All fourteen songs are written by Jim Keaveny with the exception of a couple of co writes with Ethan Millang and Mike J. Dwyer. Jim takes all lead vocals plays guitar, harmonica and percussion, with his wife Anna Oakley adding fiddle and backing vocals, Bill Palmer plays electric bass but on the track where upright bass is used that is courtesy of Noah Martinez and the sometimes dominant and beautifully flowing accordion is played by David Barclay Gomez. Whilst the blend of instruments are not of themselves unusual, at times the overall arrangements have a strong and hugely appealing originality. Perhaps the albums unusual feel is due to the impression that the character in the songs has a rural background and is at home in the dusty south western areas of the U.S. as well as an occasional visitor to the urban areas further north. Certainly those feelings create a very strong identity for Jim and this tremendous album that despite it’s lightness of touch also has a nice depth that further enhances the atmosphere.
Jims vocals, as I’ve already mentioned, have an affinity with a young Bob Dylan, although with a stronger melodicism and Jims music is texturally and stylistically more diverse, always with that lightness of touch but also with a sense of humour always in evidence, although this is a world away from being a ‘comedy album.’ Bass and percussion sometimes feel a little too far forward in the mix but such is their excellence that it helps to provide an unusual atmosphere to the songs. Overall the arrangement of the instrumentation is often sparse and never overdone, serving to add colour and enhance the atmosphere in favour of Jims raw but melodic vocal
The album opener is Eugene To Yuma, a song first heard, although in a different and more raw style, on his 2003 album ‘These Old Things.’ This time it is a terrific easy going mid tempo country folk song with excellent bass and percussion laying the foundations, andharmonica and melodic chiming guitar helping the song along with the atmospheric intervention of a gorgeous accordion on a roaming story song. On I Found A Girl there is a nice twangy guitar intro accompanied by a lovely flowing accordion sound and more twangy electric guitar supporting Jimsvocal on a tale of someone returning home and wondering what sort of reception he will get, although the song is never over dramatic and includes angelic harmonies on the chorus. Out Of Sight is a song that has a strong Tex Mex feel with the accordion and guitar sound adding a sense of drama to an excellent rolling, melodic tale about moving on both figuratively and literally. Out Of Time starts with a driving bass, percussion and vocal reminiscent of the Clash! It certainly doesn’t have a particular country or folk sound, but the mariachi horns drag the song to the south west rather than the Appalachians and whilst it rocks with the powerful incessant bass it is also not really a rock song. Perhaps all of those threads plus a few more besides! Someone To Talk To Blues with its powerful bass and percussion has an excellent, almost funky feel aided by melodic electric guitar and Jims straining vocal on a song that could have (but didn’t!) come from a Steely Dan recording, even having a little bluesiness to further change the albums texture and keep the listener guessing. The album concludes with the slow moody ballad The Yippee-i-ay Song, a gorgeous and evocative tale on which we hear acoustic guitar, fiddle and accordion solos on a song that has a nice sense of light drama with an anthemic chorus.
I never seem to stray far from Dylan comparisons on this excellent album but it is only by way of some of Jims vocal characteristics and I am probably over playing that! In every way he is a quite original artist who ploughs his own musical furrow and long may he continue to do so if it means producing albums of such supreme quality as this and his previous work.
~ Songs so colourful you can smell the dust and heat. ~
Jim Keaveny has, in the most positive way, been around and lived a life and with this, his fifth album he brings all that experience to bear to provide us with his best piece of work to date and one which is quite probably career defining. He has an interesting and unique style that defies most attempts to pigeon hole him. However, he is certainly in the Woody Guthrie mould although without the cutting edge of political opinion. There is harmonica and accordian to the fore on most tracks which gives the album a Tex-Mex feel allowing you to almost smell the dusty hot air. In “Eugene To Yuma” which opens the album Keaveny breezily narrates his way along a train ride through Oregon with such familiarity that you feel that you are right there in the carriage with him. There are more train references in the haunting “Out Of Sight” which features some wonderful Spanish guitar and accordion solos which stir up some real emotion.
Love songs feature of course and “From the Black” is one such with thoughtful lyric and tuneful melody whilst “Anything Without You” is its antithisis borne out by the lyric “something brand new anything that I do, should surely love it without you”. There is so much good stuff here that it is tempting to mention each track but the real clincher is the fact that each song has a different style and feel with no reliance on the same formula. “Changing” for example is a song of life in the Steve Forbert mould wheras “Someone To Talk To Blues” is a classic blues track as the title implies. “Ridin’ Boots” almost defies description it is so quirky featuring that Tex-Mex accordian, and a chorus of almost camp repeats from a host of back up singers which could easily date from the era of cowboy ballads from the 1950’s. Keaveny, who wrote or co-wrote the 14 tracks on this CD has come of age and produced a true Americana album of real quality.
-Alternate Root Magazine
Jim Keaveny’s latest effort, Music Man, combines the wit of Townes, the urgency of Guthrie and the ability to paint images in the listeners mind of Dylan into a package that is uniquely his own. It blazes a path for many new folk singers to follow.
A Kerrville 2005 New Folk finalist, Jim Keaveny is as DIY as folk music gets. From his hand-written bio to a summer spent busking inEurope, he lives close to the ground, and his third CD, A Boot Stomping (Blue Bonnet), simply reinforces his stance.
Like a breath of fresh air Jim Keaveny’s album Out Of Time is a back to basics album of American folk music with some blues, country and a dash of Tex-Mex added to the flavour. Keaveny’s one of those jobbing musicians, restless, a back history of hitching around, a colourful C.V. (fisherman, dishwasher, cook, graveyard maintenance man, brewer and busker) and eventually getting his act together, settling down and picking up his guitar.
Out Of Time is almost timeless with Keaveney’s songs firmly rooted in the dusty Americana canon of freewheeling road songs, small town romance and that old standby, the railroad. Riding the road and the rail he’s accompanied by the spirits of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, John Prine, Chip Taylor and numerous others, no big thing I suppose as one could say the same of numerous contemporaries. Keaveny however stands out from the crowd with the abandon and general sense of glee with which the songs are delivered. While the title song here is a big number production with parping horns and a similarity to Dylan going through the motions the remainder of the album is a gem indeed.
The Dylan thing comes from Keaveny’s voice which does have a nasal twang to it but get beyond that and there’s plenty to enjoy here. The confused agglomeration of guitars on the claustrophobic Parkin’ Meter harks back to cozmic coyboy days while the cluttered horn driven mayhem of The Girl comes across like a cartoon, thrilling indeed as it picks up steam. The meat of the matter however is in Keaveny’s mastery of the story telling steady rolling song with the opening song, Eugene To Yuma a perfect example. It lopes along in classic style namechecking territories as the drums shuffle, guitars brush along and a weedy harmonica roots it in the vernacular. From The Black shuffles along in excellent style with the guitars scintillating in their interplay while Anything Without You hits a fantastic retro groove as it snakes along. There’s stripped back troubadourism on the fine Ridin’ Boots and The Yippee-I-Ay Song while I Found A Girl is draped in a Mexican veil with accordion to the fore, a feat repeated in the standout song, Out Of Sight. Here Keaveney’s voice is attractively world worn as he leads us into a twilight world with huffing accordion and barbed acoustic guitar runs, romantic and evocative as hell. In addition Keaveny throws in a blinding crawling kingsnake blues number in the shape of Someone To Talk To Blues that slinks along with slabs of guitar erupting.
–Blabber ‘n’ Smoke (Glasgow)