Over the past 30 years, Larry Keel has been praised by fans and critics alike for his energetic live performances and award-winning flatpicking skills. He is a prolific songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has appeared on nearly two dozen albums, including 12 that he produced himself, and has collaborated with everyone from Bill Monroe to Billy Strings. Today, he is proud to announce his anticipated new solo album American Dream. Set for release on November 6, Keel single-handedly produced, recorded, and wrote each of the 10 tracks on the album, a project that was predominantly created during quarantine this past spring. This influence is evident in the album’s first single,“Try”, which is premiering exclusively at JamBase today. Keel says “Try” is about his personal approach to figuring out life’s mysteries and challenges, saying, “Big concept, simple approach: all you gotta do is try.” American Dream can be pre-ordered here.
Reminiscent of Jerry Garcia’s solo album Garcia, Keel plays each instrument on every track of American Dream, giving listeners a unique opportunity to hear the acclaimed acoustic guitar player showcase his mandolin chops, banjo licks, upright bass thump and power on electric guitar. While some tracks are rooted in Keel’s classic bluegrass style, others veer towards poppy folk rock, a couple of tunes are dripping in moody psychedelia, and some have more of a gritty, old-time stomp like the single “Try”.
Lyrically, the songs on American Dream are dynamic. Some were inspired by Keel’s experiences as a touring musician living life on the road, while others were galvanized by the events that were taking place at the time—including the COVID-19 pandemic and the global protests against systemic racism. On title track “American Dream”, Keel acknowledges his position as a white man and how he’s consistently listening and learning. In the song’s opening line, he clearly states what he does not want to be as a man (I don’t wanna grow up to be another angry old white guy / self-important, and all wrapped up in his white lie), and then proclaims what he is attempting to be: an empathetic, moral and positive person, always striving to do better and aiming to serve the greater good.
“I consider this album to be a culmination of my deepest and most sincere thoughts, up to now. In spite of the turbulent times happening when I wrote most of these songs, I felt really centered and energized to just say exactly what was on my mind through lyrics and music,” Keel explains. “For me, this was a positive experience in starting a conversation through this recording. Hopefully it resonates with someone out there.”
This month, Keel will be on tour in Virginia with Sam Bush Band, Travis Book & Andy Falco, and Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen; next month, he will be in South Carolina at Charleston Pour House. All shows will conform with local regulations and Covid-related safety measures.
American Dream Track Listing:
1. American Dream
2. The Best of Man
3. Mother Nature
4. Long Way Round
5. So Black and White
6. Precious Times (Aby’s Song)
8. Old Friends
9. Old Man Kelsey’s
10. Mars’ Cry
See Larry Keel Live:
Oct. 16 – Roseland, VA – Devils Backbone (with Sam Bush Band)
Oct. 23 – Roanoke, VA – 5 Points Music Sanctuary (with Travis Book & Andy Falco)
Oct. 24 – Round Hill, VA – B Chord Brewing Company (with Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen)*
Nov. 28 – Charleston, SC – Charleston Pour House
* Album release show