Friday February 26. 2016 will see acoustic and bluegrass virtuoso Larry Keel independently release his 15th studio album Experienced. The album is comprised of 7 songs, four written by Keel and three by his songwriting partner Will Lee, and showcases the musical talent possessed by Keel that has brought forth praise from such bluegrass luminaries as Sam Bush and Del McCoury. Bush and McCoury, along with Keller Williams, Jason Carter (Del McCoury Band), Mike Guggino (Steep Canyon Rangers) and Anders Beck (Greensky Bluegrass) all make guest appearances on this stellar album. Experienced may be considered a bluegrass album, but to me it represents an exploration of American roots music with folk and blues making appearances on the record.
The opening instrumental track "Ripchord" sets the album off at a frenetic pace, with the talents Keel and his compatriots on full display. Front and center on this cut is Sam Bush with a blistering mandolin solo. Indeed, "Ripchord" is a song that should be played at full volume, with the full risk that the walls may shake right off their foundation. "Lil' Miss" puts the blues in bluegrass, as this song could easily be played in the smokiest blues joints of Chicago or New Orleans. Anders Beck's work on the dobro, along with Larry's growling vocals set this song apart from the traditional bluegrass sound.
The album's third track, "Memories", brings the listener right back to the traditional bluegrass/folk territory. A wonderful song about making each day a memorable one, allowing yourself to have a life well lived and worth looking back upon with few regrets. The melody and lyrics are reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot's earlier works. "Fill 'Em Up Again" takes us back in to pure bluegrass territory, with brilliant harmonies from Del McCoury, Will Lee and Jenny Keel joining Larry on the chorus. The album explores much darker territory on "Miles and Miles" and "The Warrior", but wraps up with much brighter subject matter in the traditional country sounding "Another Summer Day."
Larry will be touring throughout the spring and summer promoting Experienced as the touring entity Larry Keel Experience. The tour will kick off Feb. 26th in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and then moving on to Washington D.C. at Gypsy Sally's on the 27th. Do yourself a great favor, pick up a copy of Experienced and check out a show. It will be an Experience, to be sure.