Steven Keene


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About

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Steven Keene began his career by playing Folk Clubs and cafes in Greenwich Village in the early 90's. He crisscrossed the streets of McDougal and Bleecker playing open mikes, hootenanny's and small clubs.

In 1990, Steven released his first album, "Keene On Dylan" with ...

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Contact

Publicist
Christine Brackenhoff
812-961-3721

Current News

  • 03/31/202005/15/2020

NYC-based singer-songwriter Steven Keene puts a finger on the panicked pulse of the times with acerbic new single “Save Yourself”

New York folkie mainstay and seasoned singer-songwriter Steven Keene has never been big on offering up explanations or meaning behind his songs. Everybody's got their own personal take on them, so less is more when it comes to revealing his own personal experience behind any given lyric or refrain. But the refreshingly peculiar aspect of Keene’s distinct lyrical style has always been his poetic capacity to conjure universally relatable imagery – of love, of loss or longing...

Press

  • The Aquarian, Highlight, 02/18/2020, Mike Greenblatt’s Rant ‘N’ Roll Text
  • American Songwriter, Feature story, 12/24/2019, Steven Keene Discusses New Release and ‘It Is What It Is’ Album
  • The Aquarian, Feature story, 02/10/2020, North Jersey Notes Text
  • WWSP, Airplay, 02/02/2020, "Acoustic Revival" Text
  • + Show More

News

05/15/2020, "Save Yourself", Symphonic
03/31/202005/15/2020, NYC-based singer-songwriter Steven Keene puts a finger on the panicked pulse of the times with acerbic new single “Save Yourself”
Release
05/15/2020
Release
05/15/2020
Release Type
Digital & Physical
Country
United States
Record Label
Symphonic
Release Title
Save Yourself
Steven Keene has now put an uncanny interpretive finger on the panicked pulse of our current collective experience with his latest single “Save Yourself” (to be released May 15, 2020 on Symphonic). MORE» More»

New York folkie mainstay and seasoned singer-songwriter Steven Keene has never been big on offering up explanations or meaning behind his songs. Everybody's got their own personal take on them, so less is more when it comes to revealing his own personal experience behind any given lyric or refrain. But the refreshingly peculiar aspect of Keene’s distinct lyrical style has always been his poetic capacity to conjure universally relatable imagery – of love, of loss or longing –  the well-crafted art of his storytelling that lets listeners connect with and interpret songs through their own lived experience.

It would seem Keene has now put an uncanny interpretive finger on the panicked pulse of our current collective experience with his latest single “Save Yourself” (to be released May 15, 2020 on Symphonic). The timely blues- rock anthem reads like a sardonic sign of the times, casting a critical eye on the hypocritical side of human nature ...as a self-obsessed and virtue signaling society turns from sanctimonious cries to “save the world” on social media to frantic displays self-preservation the moment times get tough.

With lyrics like ‘your cow has gone dry, there’s no water in your well,’ ‘...there’s far too little peace, and far too much green,’ and a bitingly sarcastic chorus of ‘before you save the world, save yourself’ – one envisions recent news clips of the hysterical hoarding hordes ditching all calls for civility and the greater good to buy up every available food item, fighting over hand-sanitizer and toilet paper. Markets crashing and industry coming to a halt, with the business class cutting expendables as lives, dreams, and livelihoods are sacrificed to the cold calculus of corporate reason. The selfish, not the selfless will survive; “save yourself” is the epithet of our time.

The new single follows fast on the heels of Keene’s recent comeback EP It Is What It Is, just released in January following a steady stream of original singles dropping every month or so since last fall. The consistent flow and range of the new material being churned out foreshadows the broad stylistic eclecticism and bold subject matter that can be expected on his upcoming album Them and Us, slated to be released later this year. It is also indicative of a deeply personal renaissance Keene has been undergoing as an artist.

A true songwriter’s songwriter, Keene, has focussed himself for most of his career on honing the craft of songwriting and collaboration with other musicians, more so than chasing record deals and fame. But after working for years in the industry as a well-respected musician and songwriter – collaborating with an impressive roster of musicians and achieving more than a few notable successes in the 90s and early 2000s – life and love-lost took Keene down a road of heavy heartache that put his songwriting on an extended hiatus.

“I'll tell you what happened,” reflects Keene. “I went through a lot of tragedy in my life. It took a while, seven years, for me to get over it. And then one day, like a switch,  I just was ...and I started a new life for myself and put ache in the past.”

True to his belief that the story is best left open to the listener’s interpretation, Keene doesn’t go into too much detail in the telling of it. But the clues and characters are littered throughout the flood of songs that followed the sudden breaking of a years long writer’s block. No stranger to music’s strange ability to nullify the ach of loss, Keene harnessed the fermenting pain of love-lost and lessons learned to fuel a reawakening of his songwriting chops.

The songs on Keene’s upcoming album run the gamut from the political to the starkly anti-political, from lovesick ballads to whisky infused odes to the foggy darlings of one night stands. Spanning rock, blues, folk and country, Keene gives nods to his primary influences, which range in genre and style from folk song-crafting icons like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Tom Waits to the blues mavericks like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Elmore James, and further afield to include the likes of composer/pianist Henry Mancini, country iconoclast Hank Williams ...and even Pink Floyd.

“I'm very lucky, at this stage in my life, that I'm writing and producing more songs than I ever have ...at a faster rate. The bad news is the songs keep me up at night, and they haunt my dreams. And I'm constantly reaching for paper.”

Keene’s newly rising star is a sign that there are listeners out there who hunger for his straightforwardly audacious yet classic style of songwriting . Rediscovered by industry veteran Jason Jordan just prior to ONErpm poaching the exec from a position as SVP of Republic Records, Keene has been in no hurry to sign to a major label or conform his sound. When Jordan left Republic in 2018, sensing a seismic shift in the industry, one of his first moves as North America managing director of ONErpm was to sign Keene and release the series of singles that have revitalized his career. Now Keene has moved on to Symphonic for the upcoming release with Jordan taking on the role of actively managing the artist.

All of the upcoming album’s tracks will be produced by Keene himself, and recorded and mixed by Joseph DeMaio just blocks from the Atlantic Ocean in Long Branch, New Jersey’s Shorefire Recording Studios, using the last analog Helios console ever built. Having found a classic  analog sound and collaborative dynamic that works for him, Keene is keeping on the same roster of musicians for the the new, including Rich Scannella on drums, Joseph Chiarolanza on bass, Matt O'Ree on guitar , Joseph Napolitano on pedal steel,  Arne Wendt on keys, and Michele Weir or Layonne Holmes doing background vocals.

Release
05/15/2020

12/16/2019, Veteran NYC folkie Steven Keene releasing new EP, "It Is What It Is"
12/16/201912/16/2019, Veteran NYC folkie Steven Keene releasing new EP, "It Is What It Is"
Announcement
12/16/2019
Announcement
12/16/2019
Keene prescribes a dose of original love-lost drinking songs on his upcoming EP "It Is What It Is" (out January 10th, 2020 on ONErpm). MORE» More»

Folkie and singer-songwriter Steven Keene knows that knocking back a glass of bourbon to a sad song is like therapy for love and lust gone awry. Like a whiskey-Freud with songs to heal the lecherous heart, Keene prescribes a dose of original love-lost drinking songs on his upcoming EP It Is What It Is (out January 10th, 2020 on ONErpm).

All of the EP’s tracks will be produced by Keene himself, and recorded and mixed by Joseph DeMaio just blocks from the Atlantic Ocean in Long Branch, New Jersey’s Shorefire Recording Studios using the last analog Helios console ever built. Having found a classic analog sound and collaborative dynamic that works, Keene is keeping on the same roster of musicians for the full EP, including Rich Scannella on drums, Joseph Chiarolanza on bass, Matt O'Ree on guitar , Joseph Napolitano on pedal steel, Arne Wendt and Jeff Levine on keys, and Michele Weir or Layonne Holmes doing background vocals.

On Keene’s first single “Don’t Blame It On The Alcohol”, one picks up on a hint of an early ‘70s Tom Waits (when he was at his singer-songwriter best), as well as nods Keene’s other primary influences, which range in genre and style from folk song-crafting icons like Dylan and Leonard Cohen, to the blues mavericks like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Elmore James, and further afield to include the likes of composer/pianist Henry Mancini and country iconoclast Hank Williams.

The second single, “By Your Side”, is a piano-infused ballad asking an estranged lover how she could let it go and throw it all away. Keene’s lyric asks, "Didn’t I give all I had to give? Didn’t I love all I had to love? Wasn’t I always there by your side?" “It’s another drinking song, but a more reflective one,” says Keene“It’s about that feeling when you lost someone and your biggest problem is that your mind is just so sucked on it all the time, and you're always thinking about it as opposed to moving on ...always coming back to it. You know, how to navigate those nagging questions: ‘What did I do wrong? How can I make it right? What should I do? What's my next step? Should I text her? Email? Maybe I can just ...you know, all that miserable stuff."

The third single, “She Used Me, I Used Her...”, is a moody Americana track with dramatic cymbal crashes, crooning pedal steel, and lyrics that reflect a romance steeped in opportunism and apathy. "I was on a train headed east and sat down next to a woman named Shirley,"Keene recollects. "She was very friendly and opened up pretty quick. She began to tell me about her life and her current boyfriend. You see, Shirley is 67 and she's dating a 29-year-old guy. She was open and honest about the terms of their relationship. I got to thinking that thiswould make for a good song. And here it is, in reverse. Thanks, Shirley."

A true songwriter’s songwriter, Keene, has focused himself for most of his career on honing the craft of songwriting and collaboration with other musicians more so than the chasing record deals and fame. This is illustrated by the impressive roster of musicians he's worked with over the years.

Keene grew up in Brooklyn, New York and got his start playing the folk clubs and cafes of the Greenwich Village scene in the early '90s alongside contemporaries Beck, Susanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, and others. He started out performing his earliest material at The Speakeasy, the now-closed folk club that was a singer-songwriter, folky staple in the ’90s. For years, he would crisscross the streets of McDougal and Bleecker, playing the open mikes, hootenanny's and small clubs including the Bottom Line (back in the day, that was considered the best listening room), Lone Star Cafe, the Mercury Lounge, the Bitter End, Arlene's Grocery, and the legendary CBGB's. Back then, Keene shared stages and played regularly with then fellow emerging unknown folkie Beck at joints like Sun Mountain Cafe and the Chameleon.

By 1990, Keenehad made enough of a name for himself on the folk scene, so that when he was ready to release his first album Keene On Dylan, he found former Bob Dylan band members Howie Wyeth and Rob Stoner (Desire/Rolling Thunder) accessible and eager to collaborate on this eclectic mix of originals, covers, and traditionals.
 
A few years later in 1995, Keene’s second album No Alternative was put out on the Moo Records label featuring other former Dylan band members Tony Garnier, John Jackson, and Bucky Baxter. He also played a tune on this album, "Only Homeless" with Danny Kalb, the legendary musician from the 60's Village scene. No Alternative saw a good deal of success and was distributed through BMG in Europe in conjunction with a European tour and video on MTV Europe for the single, "Far Better Friend than Lover,” an updated version of which will be the second single for the new EP.

In 2001, Steven released Set Clock on Moo Records which received praise in the local New York press and featured the Mancini inspired “She Poured Gasoline,” the freaky basement tapes sound of “Hang a Plaque” and title track “ Set Clock,” which lamented the purity of being naive in virtuous youth and losing that purity over time with lines like “I wish I knew now what I once knew then”. Keene was featured on Vin Scelsa's "Idiot's Delight" and toured extensively to promote the album.

Like all good tunes, Keene's songs are well-steeped in the craft of storytelling. Yet, the refreshingly peculiar aspect of Keene's distinctive lyrical style is its capacity to conjure that universally relatable imagery of love, loss, and longing that leaves the listener nodding "yeah, I've been there" and connecting to living the story through their own lived experience.“

Sometimes the perspective is from myself, and sometimes I'm writing a song through someone else’s eyes," reflects Keene. "I'm not very big on insisting on explanations behind the songs I write, only because everybody's got their own take on them, like a painting or any art form. I think less is more when it comes to talking about my own personal experience of a song.”

Announcement
12/16/2019

11/20/2019, Veteran New York Folkie Steven Keene releasing single “She Used Me, I Used Her"
11/20/201911/20/2019, Veteran New York Folkie Steven Keene releasing single “She Used Me, I Used Her"
Announcement
11/20/2019
Announcement
11/20/2019
The third single to drop will be “She Used Me, I Used Her” (drops Dec. 6th), a moody Americana track with dramatic cymbal crashes, crooning pedal steel, and lyrics that reflect a romance steeped in opportunism and apathy. MORE» More»

Veteran New York folkie and singer-songwriter Steven Keene knows that knocking back a glass of bourbon to a sad song is like therapy for love and lust gone awry. Like a whiskey-Freud with songs to heal the lecherous heart, Keene prescribes a dose of original love-lost drinking songs on his upcoming EP It Is What It Is (out January 10th, 2020 on ONErpm).

The third single to drop will be “She Used Me, I Used Her” (drops Dec. 6th), a moody Americana track with dramatic cymbal crashes, crooning pedal steel, and lyrics that reflect a romance steeped in opportunism and apathy. Keene introduces the first chorus: "They said it's wrong, but we didn't care. She used me, and I used her, but no one cared."

"I was on a train headed east and sat down next to a woman named Shirley," Keene recollects. "She was very friendly and opened up pretty quick. She began to tell me about her life and her current boyfriend. You see, Shirley is 67 and she's dating a 29-year-old guy. She was open and honest about the terms of their relationship. I got to thinking that this would make for a good song.  And here it is, in reverse. Thanks, Shirley."

All of the EP’s tracks will be produced by Keene himself, and recorded and mixed by Joseph DeMaio just blocks from the Atlantic Ocean in Long Branch, New Jersey’s Shorefire Recording Studios using the last analog Helios console ever built. Having found a classic  analog sound and collaborative dynamic that works, Keene is keeping on the same roster of musicians for the full EP, including Rich Scannella on drums, Joseph Chiarolanza on bass, Matt O'Ree on guitar , Joseph Napolitano on pedal steel,  Arne Wendt and Jeff Levine on keys, and Michele Weir or Layonne Holmes doing background vocals.

On Keene’s previous single “Don’t Blame It On The Alcohol” one picks up on a hint of an early ‘70s Tom Waits (when he was at his singer-songwriter best), as well as nods Keene’s other primary influences, which range in genre and style from folk song-crafting icons like Dylan and Leonard Cohen, to the blues mavericks like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Elmore James, and further afield to include the likes of composer/pianist Henry Mancini and country iconoclast Hank Williams.

A true songwriter’s songwriter, Keene, has focussed himself for most of his career on honing the craft of songwriting and collaboration with other musicians more so than the chasing record deals and fame. This is illustrated by the impressive roster of musicians he's worked with over the years.

Keene grew up in Brooklyn, New York and got his start playing the folk clubs and cafes of the Greenwich Village scene in the early '90s alongside contemporaries Beck, Susanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, and others. He started out performing his earliest material at The Speakeasy, the now-closed folk club that was a singer-songwriter, folky staple in the ’90s. For years, he would crisscross the streets of McDougal and Bleecker, playing the open mikes, hootenanny's and small clubs including the Bottom Line (back in the day, that was considered the best listening room), Lone Star Cafe, the Mercury Lounge, the Bitter End, Arlene's Grocery, and the legendary CBGB's. Back then, Keene shared stages and played regularly with then fellow emerging unknown folkie Beck at joints like Sun Mountain Cafe and the Chameleon.

By 1990, Keene had made enough of a name for himself on the folk scene, so that when he was ready to release his first album Keene On Dylan, he found former Bob Dylan band members Howie Wyeth and Rob Stoner (Desire/Rolling Thunder) accessible and eager to collaborate on this eclectic mix of originals, covers, and traditionals.

A few years later in 1995, Keene’s second album No Alternative was put out on the Moo Records label featuring other former Dylan band members Tony Garnier, John Jackson, and Bucky Baxter. He also played a tune on this album, "Only Homeless" with Danny Kalb, the legendary musician from the 60's Village scene. No Alternative saw a good deal of success and was distributed through BMG in Europe in conjunction with a European tour and video on MTV Europe for the single, "Far Better Friend than Lover,” an updated version of which will be the second single for the new EP.

In 2001 Steven released Set Clock on Moo Records which received praise in the local New York press and featured the Mancini inspired “She Poured Gasoline,” the freaky basement tapes sound of “Hang a Plaque” and title track “ Set Clock,” which lamented the purity of being naive in virtuous youth and losing that purity over time with lines like “I wish I knew now what I once knew then”. Keene was featured on Vin Scelsa's "Idiot's Delight" and toured extensively to promote the album.

Like all good tunes, Keene's songs are well-steeped in the craft of storytelling. Yet, the refreshingly peculiar aspect of Keene's distinctive lyrical style is its capacity to conjure that universally relatable imagery of love, of loss, and longing that leaves the listener nodding "yeah, I've been there" and connecting to living the story through their own lived experience.

“Sometimes the perspective is from myself, and sometimes I'm writing a song through someone else’s eyes," reflects Keene. "I'm not very big on insisting on explanations behind the songs I write, only because everybody's got their own take on them, like a painting or any art form. I think less is more when it comes to talking about my own personal experience of a song.”

 

Announcement
11/20/2019

11/05/2019, Veteran New York Folkie Steven Keene releases single “By Your Side”
11/05/201911/05/2019, Veteran New York Folkie Steven Keene releases single “By Your Side”
Announcement
11/05/2019
Announcement
11/05/2019
The second single to drop from Steven Keene's upcoming EP will be “By Your Side”, a piano infused ballad with backup vocal chops from NJ-based gospel singer Layonne Holmes that asks an estranged lover how she could let it go and throw it all away. MORE» More»

Veteran New York folkie and singer-songwriter Steven Keene knows that knocking back a glass of bourbon to a sad song is like therapy for love and lust gone awry. Like a whiskey-Freud with songs to heal the lecherous heart, Keene prescribes a dose of love-lost drinking songs on his upcoming EP It Is What It Is (out Dec. 6, 2019 on ONErpm). The collection of originals will be released as a series of singles over the next few months, with one new track slated to drop every three weeks and the first single “Don’t Blame It on the Alcohol” came out in October.

The second single to drop will be “By Your Side” (drops Nov. 8th), a piano infused ballad with backup vocal chops from NJ-based gospel singer Layonne Holmes that asks an estranged lover how she could let it go and throw it all away. Keene’s lyrics ask,  ‘Didn’t I give all I had to give? Didn’t I love all I had to love? Wasn’t I always there by your side?’

“Its a very straightforward ballad about lost love,” says Keene. “It’s the sort of song where you’re asking yourself those tedious questions over and over and looking from all the different angles of the relationship and why it went wrong. ‘Was it me? Was it her? Was it us? Was it just the timing? Or did the relationship just run its course?’ These are the kind of questions that keep you up at night, rattling your brain. And before you know it, you're not sleeping. It overtakes your consciousness, your mind, and your soul ...until finally you're able to just realize that the best medicine for love gone wrong is to just let it be”.

All of the EP’s tracks will be produced by Keene himself, and recorded and mixed by Joseph DeMaio just blocks from the Atlantic Ocean in Long Branch, New Jersey’s Shorefire Recording Studios using the last analog Helios console ever built. Having found a classic  analog sound and collaborative dynamic that works, Keene is keeping on the same roster of musicians for the full EP, including Rich Scannella on drums, Joseph Chiarolanza on bass, Matt O'Ree on guitar , Joseph Napolitano on pedal steel,  Arne Wendt and Jeff Levine on keys, and Michele Weir or Layonne Holmes doing background vocals.

On Keene’s previous single “Don’t Blame It On The Alcohol” one picks up on a hint of an early ‘70s Tom Waits (when he was at his singer-songwriter best), as well as nods Keene’s other primary influences, which range in genre and style from folk song-crafting icons like Dylan and Leonard Cohen, to the blues mavericks like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Elmore James, and further afield to include the likes of composer/pianist Henry Mancini and country iconoclast Hank Williams.

A true songwriter’s songwriter, Keene, has focussed himself for most of his career on honing the craft of songwriting and collaboration with other musicians more so than the chasing record deals and fame. This is illustrated by the impressive roster of musicians he's worked with over the years. 

Keene grew up in Brooklyn, New York and got his start playing the folk clubs and cafes of the Greenwich Village scene in the early '90s alongside contemporaries Beck, Susanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, and others. He started out performing his earliest material at The Speakeasy, the now-closed folk club that was a singer-songwriter, folky staple in the ’90s. For years, he would crisscross the streets of McDougal and Bleecker, playing the open mikes, hootenanny's and small clubs including the Bottom Line (back in the day, that was considered the best listening room), Lone Star Cafe, the Mercury Lounge, the Bitter End, Arlene's Grocery, and the legendary CBGB's. Back then, Keene shared stages and played regularly with then fellow emerging unknown folkie Beck at joints like Sun Mountain Cafe and the Chameleon.

By 1990, Keene had made enough of a name for himself on the folk scene, so that when he was ready to release his first album Keene On Dylan, he found former Bob Dylan band members Howie Wyeth and Rob Stoner (Desire/Rolling Thunder) accessible and eager to collaborate on this eclectic mix of originals, covers, and traditionals.

A few years later in 1995, Keene’s second album No Alternative was put out on the Moo Records label featuring other former Dylan band members Tony Garnier, John Jackson, and Bucky Baxter. He also played a tune on this album, "Only Homeless" with Danny Kalb, the legendary musician from the 60's Village scene. No Alternative saw a good deal of success and was distributed through BMG in Europe in conjunction with a European tour and video on MTV Europe for the single, "Far Better Friend than Lover,” an updated version of which will be the second single for the new EP.

In 2001 Steven released Set Clock on Moo Records which received praise in the local New York press and featured the Mancini inspired “She Poured Gasoline,” the freaky basement tapes sound of “Hang a Plaque” and title track “ Set Clock,” which lamented the purity of being naive in virtuous youth and losing that purity over time with lines like “I wish I knew now what I once knew then”. Keene was featured on Vin Scelsa's "Idiot's Delight" and toured extensively to promote the album.

Like all good tunes, Keene's songs are well-steeped in the craft of storytelling. Yet, the refreshingly peculiar aspect of Keene's distinctive lyrical style is its capacity to conjure that universally relatable imagery of love, of loss, and longing that leaves the listener nodding "yeah, I've been there" and connecting to living the story through their own lived experience.

“Sometimes the perspective is from myself, and sometimes I'm writing a song through someone else’s eyes," reflects Keene. "I'm not very big on insisting on explanations behind the songs I write, only because everybody's got their own take on them, like a painting or any art form. I think less is more when it comes to talking about my own personal experience of a song.”

Announcement
11/05/2019

09/30/2019, Single Release, ""Don't Blame It on the Alcohol""
09/18/201909/30/2019, Veteran New York Folkie Steven Keene releases pedal steel-infused love-lost drinking song with single “Don’t Blame It On The Alcohol”
Release
09/30/2019
Release
09/30/2019
Release Format
Single
Release Type
Digital & Physical
Distributor
oneRPM
Release Title
"Don't Blame It on the Alcohol"
Like a whiskey-Freud with songs to heal the lecherous heart, Keene prescribes a dose of love-lost drinking songs on his upcoming EP She Used Me, I Used Her. The collection of originals will be released as a series of singles over the next few months, with one new track slated to drop every three weeks. MORE» More»

Veteran New York folkie and singer-songwriter Steven Keene knows that knocking back a glass of bourbon to a sad song is like therapy for love and lust gone awry. Like a whiskey-Freud with songs to heal the lecherous heart, Keene prescribes a dose of love-lost drinking songs on his upcoming EP She Used Me, I Used Her. The collection of originals will be released as a series of singles over the next few months, with one new track slated to drop every three weeks.

The first single to drop will be “Don’t Blame it on the Alcohol” (to be released on Oct. 14th by ONErpm) infused with a distinctly country vibe and crooning pedal steel glides that punctuate Dylanesque wordplay: now I’m aware of one-night stands and strange overnight affairs. You know last night was no mistake, so don’t mistake mistakes for fate.

“It’s a morning after song …a lot of people been there. You ever been there?” he asks, “I've been there more than once. I think it's one of those drinking songs that a lot of people could relate to. It’s a good drinking song or a scary drinking song (laughing), you know? I guess it depends on what side of the fence you're on with it.”

 

All of the EP’s tracks will be produced by Keene himself, and recorded and mixed by Joseph DeMaio just blocks from the Atlantic Ocean in Long Branch, New Jersey’s Shorefire Recording Studios using the last analog Helios console ever built. Having found a classic  analog sound and collaborative dynamic that works, Keene is keeping on the same roster of musicians for the full EP, including Rich Scannella on drums, Joseph Chiarolanza on bass, Matt O'Ree on guitar , Joseph Napolitano on pedal steel,  Arne Wendt and Jeff Levine on keys, and Michele Weir or Layonne Holmes doing background vocals.

 

On “Don’t Blame It On The Alcohol” one picks up on a hint of an early ‘70s Tom Waits (when he was at his singer-songwriter best), as well as nods Keene’s other primary influences, which range in genre and style from folk song-crafting icons like Dylan and Leonard Cohen, to the blues mavericks like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Elmore James, and further afield to include the likes of composer/pianist Henry Mancini and country iconoclast Hank Williams.

 

A true songwriter’s songwriter, Keene, has focused himself for most of his career on honing the craft of songwriting and collaboration with other musicians more so than the chasing record deals and fame. This is illustrated by the impressive roster of musicians he's worked with over the years.

Keene grew up in Brooklyn New York and got his start playing the folk clubs and cafes of the Greenwich Village scene in the early '90s alongside contemporaries Beck, Susanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, and others. He started out performing his earliest material at The Speakeasy, the now-closed folk club that was a singer-songwriter, folky staple in the ’90s. For years, he would crisscross the streets of McDougal and Bleecker, playing the open mikes, hootenanny's and small clubs including the Bottom Line (back in the day, that was considered the best listening room), Lone Star Cafe, the Mercury Lounge, the Bitter End, Arlene's Grocery, and the legendary CBGB's. Back then, Keene shared stages and played regularly with then fellow emerging unknown folkie Beck at joints like Sun Mountain Cafe and the Chameleon.

By 1990, Keene had made enough of a name for himself on the folk scene, so that when he was ready to release his first album Keene On Dylan, he found former Bob Dylan band members Howie Wyeth and Rob Stoner (Desire/Rolling Thunder) accessible and eager to collaborate on this eclectic mix of originals, covers, and traditionals.

A few years later in 1995, Keene’s second album No Alternative was put out on the Moo Records label featuring other former Dylan band members Tony Garnier, John Jackson, and Bucky Baxter. He also played a tune on this album, "Only Homeless" with Danny Kalb, the legendary musician from the 60's Village scene. No Alternative saw a good deal of success and was distributed through BMG in Europe in conjunction with a European tour and video on MTV Europe for the single, "Far Better Friend than Lover,” an updated version of which will be the second single for the new EP.

In 2001 Steven released Set Clock on Moo Records which received praise in the local New York press and featured the Mancini inspired “She Poured Gasoline,” the freaky basement tapes sound of “Hang a Plaque” and title track “ Set Clock,” which lamented the purity of being naive in virtuous youth and losing that purity over time with lines like “I wish I knew now what I once knew then”. Keene was featured on Vin Scelsa's "Idiot's Delight" and toured extensively to promote the album.

Like all good tunes, Keene's songs are well-steeped in the craft of storytelling. Yet, the refreshingly peculiar aspect of Keene's distinctive lyrical style is its capacity to conjure that universally relatable imagery of love, of loss, and longing that leaves the listener nodding "yeah, I've been there" and connecting to living the story through their own lived experience.

“Sometimes the perspective is from myself, and sometimes I'm writing a song through someone else’s eyes," reflects Keene. "I'm not very big on insisting on explanations behind the songs I write, only because everybody's got their own take on them, like a painting or any art form. I think less is more when it comes to talking about my own personal experience of a song.”

Release
09/30/2019