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.
Listen to Put It Together here