Robert Earl Keen to Release Multi-Format Project “Western Chill”
Robert Earl Keen took his final bow as a live performer at 12:48 in the morning on September 5th, 2022 at the legendary Floore’s Country Store in Helotes, TX. At 67 years old, you may not want to believe that Keen has really hung up his spurs for good. But Robert Earl has avowed that he means it, and so far, no new tour plans or appearances have materialized.
But the Texas country legend did qualify at the time that he wasn’t done writing and creating. “Quitting the road doesn’t mean I’m dead, and it doesn’t mean I’m going to quit producing stuff” he said at the time.
In November of 2020 during the pandemic, Robert Earl Keen and his band played a one-off 14-song streaming event on nugs.net called Western Chill featuring a few new songs from Keen, as well as songs from his bandmates. It was recorded in Keen’s “Snake Barn” on his ranch in Medina, Texas.
Then right around the time last year that Keen played his final show, an album strangely surfaced on Spotify and other streaming services called Western Chill. Just about as quickly as Western Chill showed up and some lucky folks got a quick listen, it had disappeared once again. But it left Robert Earl Keen fans buzzing that unreleased music was still out there in the offing.
The album Western Chill will finally making its official debut on April 14th, but that’s not all. It will be accompanied in Box Set form with Robert Earl Keen and his band performing the entire album on DVD, a Western Chill songbook—and get this—a 92-page full-color graphic novel done by Scott Faris and Rachel Faris Ross of FarisWheel Productions, along with illustrator Bryan Burke.
“We first got the call from Robert asking if we wanted to take this on sometime around the end of March [of 2022],” says Scott Faris with a laugh. “We kind of joked that we were the only ones that would say yes! Because it was a huge, huge project, you know? But in the end, we managed to do it all in about 10 weeks. It was intense, but it really was a massive honor just to work on it. I mean, I know we’re talking about a comic, but it’s also a piece of Robert’s history—and a piece of Texas music history now, too.”
The album, DVD, songbook, and graphic novel will only be available in box set form, at least for now. That also means that the Western Chill album won’t be available for streaming or download either. It is being released through Robert Earl Keen’s own label, Scriptorium Rex.
Along with the new Robert Earl Keen song “Western Chill,” the album includes the song “Waves” by fiddle player Brian Beken, an instrumental by mandolin player Kym Warner called “Hey Stranger,” and other selections.
Western Chill is a collaborative, multi-format effort, and it is now available for pre-order.
March 15, 2023 @ 12:11 pm
Gave this a listen when it was up on Spotify. Was fantastic, will not disappoint.
March 15, 2023 @ 2:33 pm
Cool to see artists getting extra creative with stuff like this. There’s a couple metal albums that came out recently where the album is a story in a fictitious land and they include illustrated maps to go along with the album. Another band does Lovecraftian type of stuff and their website has illustrations and back stories for all their weird fantastical characters they introduce in the songs. It’s always fun to get a little extra nerdy with music.
March 16, 2023 @ 5:08 am
Concept albums are the shit. I’ve always been a yuge fan of albums with obvious connecting themes throughout. My life changed after I listened to Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Don’t be shy with those album names there, Travis.
March 16, 2023 @ 6:54 am
The two newer albums which include the maps I was referring to are Stormkeep’s ‘Tales of Othertime’ and High Command’s ‘Beyond the Wall of Desolation’. Both albums are great. I was surprised to see them mentioned in the article linked below since they’re relatively newer albums. I can’t remember the other band I referenced. I just remember finding that years back and thinking it was a cool concept even though I wasn’t into the music much. I do really like the new Ulthar albums that have a Lovecraftian style to the lyrics and imagery. I bought vinyl copies of both and the album art lines up if you put the two albums together. I know a lot of people think Sulphur Aeon when talking about Lovecraftian metal music, but I never got too much into them.
March 16, 2023 @ 8:00 am
I wrote the wrong album for High Command. The newer one is Eclipse of the Dual Moons.
March 16, 2023 @ 10:23 am
Hell yeah, brother. Thank you for this.
March 15, 2023 @ 3:09 pm
Very cool except I don’t have any way to play CD’s, can only play DVD’s on an old PS4!
March 15, 2023 @ 3:13 pm
I’m pretty sure you can buy CD players still
March 15, 2023 @ 3:15 pm
My local Sam Goody closed years ago, not sure where I would find one
March 15, 2023 @ 3:39 pm
March 16, 2023 @ 7:41 am
Jokes aside, holy cow CD players are expensive here!
March 16, 2023 @ 5:10 am
All my homies love eBay.
Rickie Jon Connors
March 15, 2023 @ 3:14 pm
I think ol’ REK always had a concept album in him. You can hear it in the writing of some of his longer songs. But frankly he could record a set of Dan and Shay songs and it would still be one of the albums of the year.
Look forward to hearing this.
March 15, 2023 @ 6:59 pm
I’m sure it’s top shelf music but $149.00 is kind of high for what you get.
Sir Adam the Great
March 16, 2023 @ 5:17 am
I read that as “Western CHILI” and thought, “Wow, that IS creative.”