Every once in a while the music industry produces a real road warrior. It is the artist who issues consistently excellent material for decades but receives little notice or commercial success. Despite the lack of wide acclaim and riches, he or she keeps plodding away for the love of the music and the pleasure of their small but rabid fan base.
Since 1982, Tommy Keene has been producing a brand of energetic power pop through thick and thin. He has issued nine studio albums, three live ones, and four EPs as well. Next month he will release his tenth studio album titled Behind The Parade.
He is a meticulous guitarist and has developed the ability to write melodic, hook laden songs. I find that he is one of those artists where I tend to concentrate on the music rather than the lyrics and singing. While he is a more than competent vocalist, it is the jangling style of his music that makes his sound creative, fresh, and ultimately exhilarating.
Keene has always been wise enough to keep it fairly simple. While he uses some horns for one track, it is basically his guitar and sometimes keyboards, bassist and harmony vocalist Brad Quinn, and drummer Rob Brill who join together to bring his musical visions to fruition.
The album is a good listen from beginning to end. There is the horn laden blast of the opening “Deep Six Saturday.” There is the moody, ambient instrumental “La Castana.” When you add in the mainstream power pop of “Already Made Up Your Mind” and “Running For Your Life” with one of his better lyrical creations, “His Mothers Son,” you have the making of a consistent musical experience.
Behind The Parade displays his full range of songcraft over the course of the 10 tracks. He continues his tradition of delivering pleasant and melodic hooks, tight vocal harmonies, inventive chord progressions, and stellar guitar playing.
Whether this will be the release to bring him breakthrough acclaim remains to be seen. If you would like to take a chance on something new, this is a release worth trying.