Brian Keane
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Brian Keane

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The best kept secret in music


"XL Weekly"

Brian Keane: "I Ain't Even Lonely"


We got room for another singer-songwriter who wants to tell us what he's going through emotionally? We do if he's as pleasing to the ears as this South Carolina transplant, whose Wednesday night shows at Momo's have been attracting fellow songwriters, who often sit in, as Wendy Colonna, Carolyn Wonderland and Susan Gibson do here. Looking for an easy comparison? Lyle Lovett. Keane's voice is as smooth and elastic, his arrangements as gently flowing and blues-tinged, his lyrics almost as economically illuminating. Plus, he's from the home state of Lovett's mentor Walter Hyatt, so there are extra credit points to be had.

Produced with an affinity for the songs by drummer Eldridge Goins, "I Ain't Even Lonely" sounds as if Keane played it in his head for years before finally laying it down. There's just such an easy grace at work here. May Mr. Keane make many more (and leave his shirtless back off subsequent covers, please.)

— Michael Corcoran
- Austin-American Statesman

"Texas Music magazine-Summer 2005"

Born in South Carolina, Brian Keane eventually made his way to Austin via Boston's Berklee School of Music and New York's famous Cafe Wha? supporting himself along the way by playing piano and covering 40 jillion hits. Traveling that road has given this young man the musical sophistication of a Lyle Lovett, and, like the kinky-haired Texas stylist, Keane moves easily from pop to folk to blues to honky-tonk. Keane's "Don't tell my you're sorry til you mean it / don't tell me you're leaving till you're gone," rings with Lovett's jaded sense of observational misogyny, and his duet with Guy Forsythe on Tom Waits' "Anywhere I Lay My Head" is riveting. And his opus parody, "Odysseus" ("He was headed home from some far off land, like Mississippi or Texarkan"), reaches for early Dylan territory. Watch out for this guy. - William Michael Smith

"FolkWax E-Zine"

The sweet and wistful title cut to Brian Keane's CD, I Ain't Even Lonely, is a little masterpiece - a wonderful beginning to a fantastic album. Brian's emotional but never too-whiny or too-mopey vocals come out of your speaker like a sincere plead, and the gorgeous background vocals that start in the third strain are one of the plethora of production glories on this record. The guitar color and reverb are also excellent, the builds to the chorus are incredibly beautiful, and the cleverness of even the most angst-ridden lyrics of this song ("I ain't even lonely/I just ain't got friends around") are indicative of the tons of wonderful writing throughout this CD. Huge kudos have to be given to Carolyn Wonderland and Susan Gibson for those amazing background harmonies, Colin Brooks for his lovely guitar contributions and steel guitar work, and especially to producer/drummer Eldridge Goins for the whole mix.

A bluesier beat with some nifty drum brushes launches "Go So Wrong," a finger-snappy song containing a sincere request for forgiveness from a lover. There is some especially wonderful work in this tune from Allan Chapman's bass, however, in my only production nitpick on this phenomenal sounding record, my prejudiced self could have used a smidgen more of that bass sound in places. Mr. K's voice sails over this contrasting number with expert phrasing and beauty and how awesome is that Jazz chord voicing on the piano work at the end as it goes into the high range?

"I Miss You" now takes us to honky-tonk Blues land showing what an incredibly versatile musician and songwriter is Keane. This song is so colored with barroom sadness that you can nearly smell the spilled cheap beer and smoke embedded in a 1970s carpet. Keane's wit as a writer always keeps the self-pitying proceedings from ever getting maudlin. ("We were just killing time/I was yours and you were yours too, I guess"). The omnichord and mandolin color added in here also sound fantastic. "It's Been a Long Day" is another brilliant song that recalls the work of Townes Van Zandt. Not just because it sounds that good, but because Mr. K has very creatively mixed some of the phrases from Van Zandt's "Flying Shoes" into his own lyrics here. The gray-blue color of this tune is made even more devastatingly gorgeous with the addition of a string quartet in the mix - another little masterpiece of a song in a CD chock full of them.

As for "Mexico" - once again why is it that every Texas singer-songwriter thinks they have to write a song called Mexico? Thankfully Mr. Keane makes this song's locale not even the point. This song starts with a nearly creepy-sounding intro rife with silken, whispery percussion. Keane's vocal entrance then takes a sharp turn with its peppy, almost simple-Country feel bringing to the forefront that this song isn't really about Mexico, it's about leaving to anywhere ("And now I've left it all behind me/But I've made up my mind to run"). The incredible shift back to moodiness in the last chord of the tune makes this song another gem of a songwriting and listening journey.

Is there anything more clichéd and overdone than a "hometown" song? From U2 to The Boss to Montgomery Gentry to Jackson Browne, it seems anything fresh about this kind of a song idea would have been wrung dry eons ago. But when you think maybe no one can say anything new or interesting in this sort of vein, along comes this little Country-Pop masterpiece indeed titled, "Hometown," with its goosebump-inducing harmonies and rich, amazing vocals.

Whereas so much of Mr. K's wonderful songs never veer from their homey angst too close to the edge of the abyss of mopey -- he gets a smidgen too close for comfort for me in "Piece of Me," even though this is another well-written tune. All of these songs' analogies about a missed lover taking "pieces of me" - "Take my brain/She says baby won't you carry me/Take my legs" - all get pushed almost to the point of me wanting to angrily scream at the song's protagonist to grow a pair. But despite that concern, how can you still not give props to a song that starts out discussing New York subways and ends up getting to one of the killer lines I have heard all this year, relating to our South Central Texas weather: "Now we live in Texas/Where the winter lasts five to seven days." If I am saying the only song kept this album from a perfect "10" rating is still the one that contains the most amazing single lyric, then I can't give a stronger, if slightly backhanded complement than that, folks.

The one cover on the album is a bit odd, but in a very good way. Tom Waits' "Anywhere I Lay My head" sounds so odd because, well, despite my worship of Waits' rather unique vocal style, Keane has a range beyond five notes and his voice isn't just one long, (if beautifully artistic sounding) growl. This song is very sparse - just a little guitar and string color with Guy Forsyth's strong guest vocals. - Visionation


I Ain't Even Lonely -- 2005


Feeling a bit camera shy


Brian Keane performs with a twinkle in his eye. Sometimes it is a twinkle of mischief as he tells the lyrical story of Odysseus, his westernized, modern tribute to the Odyssey. Other times, it is a twinkle of conviction as he strums through stories of a life worth living and time well spent � despite the inevitable scrapes and bruises that come along with it.

Originally from South Carolina, Keane�s story line is shaped from stints of time spent in New York City, Boston, and currently, Austin, Texas. At the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007, Keane toured world-wide with Patrice Pike, playing keys and electric guitar. In the past he performed as a keyboardist in the house band of NYC�s famed Cafe Wha? and worked as a multi-instrumentalist (singer, bassist, pianist, and banjoist) and writer with the NYC bluegrass band Red Rooster. As a founding member of the Band of Heathens, he swapped songs in the group whose sound is often summed up by the words �rock and roll stew�.

Keane plays well with others, but is not afraid to sit alone in the spotlight � and he is not afraid to entertain an audience. �I just want the audience to have fun�, says Keane. �I keep eye contact with as many people as I can. I want to see how people react when they hear a song.� Keane is aware of how the words of his songs can penetrate the hearts of listeners and bring to mind memories that may include hard times. Still, he hopes some, including himself, can find some resolution in relating to experiences and observations turned to lyric. And, when he senses things are getting a little heavy, that�s when he pulls out one of his many songs that beg to be sung with a sly grin. �I like to mix it up so people don�t take themselves too seriously. So I don�t take myself too seriously.�

Keane�s debut album, I Ain�t Even Lonely, released in 2005 to both critical acclaim and commercial success. "I Ain't Even Lonely sounds as if Keane played it in his head for years before finally laying it down. There's just such an easy grace at work here. May Mr. Keane make many more..." stated Michael Corcoran of XLent Magazine.

In March, Keane�s fans will get a preview of his sophomore effort, with the release of the single �Forbidden�, a semi-autobiographical tale of a romance that tests the boundaries of a personal faith. A full-length album is scheduled to follow in the fall of 2007.