Keller & the Keels
Jam band darling Keller Williams is at our throats again, but this time, he has a little help from his friends – Larry and Jenny Keel, featured on guitar and bass. As the title suggests, Grass is a bluegrass album (not another type of grass you may have been wondering about), and a very fun one at that.
Grass gives the listener a glimpse at some of the stylistic influences that have been a part of Keller’s guitar virtuosity all these years, as well as a peek into his newest experiment – standard rock mixed with improvisation. With only two guitars and a bass – not the typical bluegrass instrumentation which includes banjo, mandolin and fiddle – Grass is a more palatable introduction to the genre for newcomers than its twangy, “pure” version.
Like any other Keller Williams album, Grass has its own individual, quirky vitality. However, this particular release lets die hard fans down with its lack of Keller originals. Grass is dominated by bluegrass covers of an atypical variety of songs, far removed in origin from bluegrass (i.e. Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” and Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” transposed into “Mary Jane’s Last Breakdown”).
The originality of the material Keller infuses into the covers keeps the songs from becoming stale too soon, but with a 3:7 original to cover ratio, the album leaves its listener wanting more of Keller’s own songwriting touch. Especially in wake of his hit concert DVD Sight released last summer, which showed Keller at his best – thriving in a live full-house setting, the album settled itself below expectations in terms of vibrancy. All in all, the studio effort of Grass, although competent, is much more pale than Keller’s previous livelier work.