CD Reviews for 11/04/09 – Robert Earl Keen, Carolyn Mark & NQ Arbuckle

Compact Capsules for Nov 4, 2009
by Dan Ferguson

Robert Earl Keen
The Rose Hotel
Lost Highway Records

It was mid-1990s albums like Bigger Piece of Sky and Gringo Honeymoon that established Robert Earl Keen as a leader of the modern Texas troubadour set. This decade’s output has been uneven at best. Favoring the rocking side of country and folk, Keen’s new The Rose Hotel is a return to that ‘90s form. It finds him nimbly walking the line between the serious and humorous sides of his writing. Add in a few well-chosen covers from Townes Van Zandt & Greg Brown and the result is an album as close as Keen has come to scaling those early heights. Visit

Carolyn Mark & NQ Arbuckle
Let’s Just Stay Here
Mint Records MRD-128

It ventures into Spaghetti Western love song territory before morphing into a darn pretty twangy country one. Below-the-radar duet album of the year? Well, IMHO, it hails from up North, that being Let’s Just Stay Here from Vancouver songstress Carolyn Mark with Toronto’s NQ Arbuckle (barroom prophet Neville Quinlan the counter to Ms. Mark). While NPR-luscious Swell Season is all the duet rave, if spine-shiverers “Officer Down” and “Saskatoon Tonight” don’t melt your loins from the girl-guy song front, well, the word numb comes to mind. There’s plenty more, too. Get this thing now! Visit

(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at [email protected].)