Robert Earl Keen Hands Over The Reins, And The Microphone, For Latest Single From Upcoming LP Western Chill

Article Contributed by IVPR | Published on Friday, May 24, 2024

Half of the fun of Robert Earl Keen’s latest musical output, Western Chill, is just how much his long-beloved band members have been involved in the album. It’s always been a family affair with Keen, but Western Chill ups the collaboration; feeling as if it’s a bunch of old friends sitting around the studio sharing songs to tape. And that’s because, well, it was. Released in physical form only last spring, Western Chill is set to make its internet debut on June 7th, available for download or to stream. “The fans spoke and we listened: you want Western Chill on-the-go so we’re releasing this labor of love, and given that it’s digital, I trust you’ll share it!” exclaims the man himself.

For those not lucky enough to have purchased the all-encompassing Western Chill box set—which included a 92-page graphic novel inspired by the album, a play-along/sing-along songbook for all fourteen songs, and a DVD of the Robert Earl Keen Band performing the entire new album at Keen’s Snake Barn studio space—REK and his band are releasing a few singles to preview exactly what Western Chill sounds like.

Today, Keen released “Waves,” written and sung by Robert Earl Keen Band fiddler, Brian Beken. In Keen’s exact words: “Brian Beken is a major talent and a really great frontman! His song ‘Waves’ is about this guy who has just been jilted…or who’s about to be jilted. And he hasn’t quite felt all of the loneliness and betrayal of somebody leaving him yet, but he knows it’s coming. He can hear the waves crashing and he feels it fixing to just fall down on him.”

Beken and the band revisited “Waves,” a tune from one of his past bands, with a whole different feel than it originally carried. “It was originally very fast and upbeat, almost unrecognizable from how it ended up on Western Chill. I slowed it way down and that really brought the melancholy, reminiscent vibe out of the lyrics which I felt would work well on Western Chill,” Beken says. “I wrote it alone in an old apartment in downtown Austin one night, which was perched over a pretty busy street they were re-paving. If you imagined enough, the sound of the traffic from inside the apartment almost sounded like waves crashing.”

Fans can stream or purchase “Waves” today at this link, hear the previously-released Western Chill single, “Let’s Valet” at this link, and pre-order or pre-save Western Chill ahead of its digital release on June 7th right here. Beginning on June 7, individual pieces of the Western Chill box set will be available “a la carte” at REK’s web store.

Those keen-eyed fans will have already seen a short, sweet list of REK full band shows announced in recent weeks, but for those who may have missed them, Keen and the band will be hitting the road in very short spurts this summer to perform 1998’s Picnic and 2003’s Farm Fresh Onions front to back in their entirety. “To keep it lively, we’ll alternate each record…Picnic one night and Farm Fresh Onions the next,” says Keen. But first, the Robert Earl Keen Band will take the stage at Round Rock, Texas’s Lone Star Jam at Round Rock Amphitheatre on May 26th. A full list of upcoming dates can be found below or at

Catch Robert Earl Keen On Tour:

May 26 - Round Rock, TX - Round Rock Amphitheatre Lone Star Jam

June 1 - Knoxville, TN - Tennessee Theatre

June 2 - Nashville, TN - Ryman Auditorium*

June 3 - Charlotte, NC - Neighborhood Theatre

June 5 - Charleston, SC - Charleston Music Hall

June 7 - Durham, NC - Carolina Theatre

June 8 - Winston-Salem, NC - The RamKat

June 9 - Rocky Mount, VA - Harvester Performance Center

June 14 - Grand Prairie, TX - Texas Trust CU Theatre

Aug. 6 - Alexandria, VA - The Birchmere

Aug. 7 - Alexandria, VA - The Birchmere

Aug. 8 - Alexandria, VA - The Birchmere

Aug. 9 - Richmond, VA - The National

*Kaitlin Butts opens