Over the past 30 years, Larry Keel has been hailed 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 share his anticipated new solo album American Dream. Predominantly created during quarantine this past spring, Keel single-handedly produced, recorded, and wrote each of the 10 tracks on the album. The album has been spotlighted by a variety of outlets, including The Bluegrass Situation, JamBase, American Songwriter, Bluegrass Today, and No Depression, who said, “American Dream finds Keel honestly exploring — even wrestling — with his place in the wider world...an impressive LP that feels like a culmination of his experience and expertise.” American Dream is available today, order it 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 lead 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. With the title track "American Dream," Keel narrates from the point of view of a child who, though young and inexperienced in life, asserts very clear standards for himself and for society. 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.”
Keel will tour throughout the Southeast throughout 2020, and has a handful of dates already on the books for 2021. All shows will conform with local regulations and Covid-related safety measures.
See Larry Keel Live:
Nov. 13 + 14 – Live Oak, FL – Suwannee Live
Nov. 21 – Earlysville, VA – Festy 2020
Nov. 28 – Charleston, SC – Charleston Pour House
April 9 + 10 – Olympic Valley, CA – WinterWonderGrass Tahoe *
May 28 + 29 – Augusta, GA – Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Music Festival
June 27 – New Martinsville, WV – Back Home Festival
July 10 – Snowshoe, WV – 4848 Festival *
Aug. 27 – Pelham, TN – The Caverns *
Sept. 18 – Berryville, VA – Watermelon Park Festival *
* with Keller and the Keels