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Bluegrass Unlimited - Keller & The Keels - Thief

Keller & The Keels - Thief

Sci Fidelity Records SCIFI 1139

When I first received Thief, the second set of cover songs recorded by Keller Williams and Larry and Jenny Keel, I fully expected my review to end up in the “On The Edge” section of this magazine. Williams’ music floats on the quirky yet inventive side of the jam band scene, and The Keels have always had an open mind about their Virginia ’grass. This trio’s first album together was called Grass and it was good, but uneven. Thief, on the other hand, flows wonderfully throughout with great arrangements and expanded musicality.

The unusual cover-song choices here will seem odd at first glance. But, the positive approach and upbeat grooves makes this CD fit in the “regular” review category just fine. Williams handles most of the lead vocals, while all three keep their acoustic instruments humming throughout. Larry Keel’s leads are excellent, especially in the case of rollicking and infectious versions of Patterson Hood’s “Uncle Disney” and Ryan Adams’ “Cold Roses.” Both Keels sing harmony and Jenny’s bass playing is as solid as ever. Other covers include “Switch And The Spur” by The Raconteurs, “Get It While You Can” by Danny Barnes, Cracker’s “Teen Angst,” “Bath Of Fire” by Presidents Of The United States Of America, the Grateful Dead’s “Mountains Of The Moon,” and Yonder Mountain String Band’s “Wind’s On Fire.” Even when the trio takes on the Amy Winehouse song “Rehab,” it isn’t done in a gimmicky way, but instead rocks right along.

Larry shares the lead vocals with Keller on two Kris Kristofferson songs, “Don’t Cuss The Fiddle” and “The Year 2003 Minus 25,” which open and close the album. If this album was too quirky, it wouldn’t hold up to multiple listenings. This fun effort, however, will stay in the mix for a long while. (SCI Fidelity Records, 2060 Broadway St., Ste. 225, Boulder, CO 80302, www.scifidelity.com.) DH