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Keegan McInroeKeegan McInroe
Album: Uncouth Pilgrims
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 14

Opening with a song titled Country Music Outlaws that namechecks Willie, Merle Townes and David Allen Coe as well as referenceing Waylon gives a pretty good idea of where this Texas "shaggy singer of songs" is coming from. With a dusty voice not unlike Guy Clark (particularly on "Resolutions") and early Kristofferson , he mines an old-fashioned Texas troubadour seam that frequently turns up solid nuggets, couching sharp observations in hummable, easy on the ear melodies with catchy hooks. Taking its title from Mark Twain's travelogue, "The Innocents Abroad", it has much to do with being on the road (his travels documented on Lay Down) and the experiences and people encountered, such as the passing strangers romances celebrated in the piano-backed "Tonight", the pedal steel coloured "BegoƱa" ("I want to watch over you, if only for this day") and the fiddle and cello accompanied slow waltzing "Verona" ("I left the young lovely all alone on her barstool and I laughed in the streets just a stone's throw away. And I'm told that she waited, but one can't wait forever, and forever was near how long I was delayed").

There a few tracks where he beefs things up, the bluesy gospel "I Got Trouble", the slouching Waits-like jazz blues "Nikolina" (a song about a tryst with a girl from Croatia) and the grinding throaty gravelly blues title track, while Flower Song for Barefoot Dancers, written by Michele Bertoldi, is a rousing, fiddle blazing hayride stomp. However, he's far better on the folksier numbers, most notably "Woody & Ruth" which spins out the story of a fictional brief encounter between Guthrie and a girl travelling with her family back in 1929, quite possibly inspired by Mary Ruth Crissman, the sister of his one-time singing partner, to whom he wrote a series of erotic letters that saw him wind up in jail.

Mike Davies