If Lyle Lovett is the thinking-man's Texas songwriter, Robert Earl Keen
is the drinking thinking-man's Texas songwriter. Since the late '80s, Keen's cockeyed, barstool's-eye-view of life's landscape has lured love from the alt-country set and diehard frat partiers in equal measure. Lumped in early on with the soft soil tilled by the likes of Lovett and iconic Texas crooner Nanci Griffith, Keen'd be more at home on a barroom bandstand alongside a honky-tonker like Joe Ely or a (music) border-crosser like Steve Earle. Twenty years in, songs such as "Corpus Christi Bay" and "The Road Goes on Forever" have taken on an almost anthemic patina, while "For Love" and "The Wild Ones" (off 2005's What I Really Mean
) shine like the big old silver belt-buckle on that deep thinker/beer drinker who'll be standing next to you at the Pageant, whooping louder than an Austin Saturday night.