· By Mattias Forsgren

Sean Keel unveils 'spiders' - first glimpse of new album 'ferals welcome', echoing legends like Cohen and Waits Released May 3rd 2024 on Icons Creating Evil Art

“The whole thing was a freak accident,” Sean Keel said about the unlikely set of circumstances that led to the release of the Austin-based singer-songwriter’s raw, starkly evocative record, 'a dry scary blue', with the independent Stockholm-based label, Icons Creating Evil Art. Now, one year later, Sean Keel together with Icons Creating Evil Art introduces the next step in the Sean Keel saga – the new album 'ferals welcome' to be released June 5th. The album is preceded by three singles with exclusive b-sides, starting with the first single 'spiders' on May 3rd. Once again we're invited into a collection of raw, starkly evocative emotionally complex songs in the tradition of Townes van Zandt, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. If you've heard anything that punches at this weight and sounds a whole lot like it, it probably means someone more mainstream (a very easy standard) had the good luck to hear Keel and the good sense to rip him off.
In the soul-stirring ballad "spiders", the essence of Americana unfurls in a mesmerizing fusion of guitar and piano. Like a journey through the heartland, the music evokes the vast expanse of West Texas, where two brothers embark on a horseback expedition. The guitar lays down a steady rhythm, while the piano wanders freely, echoing the unpredictable nature of the journey. Each note resonates with the authenticity of the open road, carrying the listener along the dusty trails of memory and emotion. In the artist's own words, "The song, as hopefully anyone listening will realize, is about two brothers on a horseback trip in west Texas. I’ll be disappointed if it reminds anyone a whole lot of any other song they’ve heard. The Joe voice is Jack Corcoran’s," hinting at the uniqueness and individuality of Keel's musical vision. Just as the brothers forge their own path through the wilderness, "spiders" stands as a testament to the artist's commitment to authenticity and originality in storytelling through music.
On the 'spiders' single is an exclusive b-side recording of the song "scared of the sea" where Keel masterfully captures the duality of human experience, where fear and longing coexist with moments of tranquility and acceptance. Through his evocative lyrics and soulful delivery, Keel invites listeners to confront their own vulnerabilities and embrace the journey towards self-discovery. Each note resonates with emotion, evoking the ebb and flow of life's trials and tribulations. As the piano chords rise and fall like ocean waves, listeners are swept away by the profound depth of Keel's storytelling. Reflecting on the song's origins, Keel shares, "This tune was written by my son Lukas, for guitar. Gabriel Rhodes had the good idea of translating it to piano. That is Gabe playing,"
'Gabe' in the example is the album's producer; the multi-talented Gabriel Rhodes. The son of famed singer Kimmie Rhodes and step-son of the influential DJ Joe Gracey, Gabe is alt-country royalty, having worked with a wide assortment of artists including Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Emmylou Harris.
“Gabe’s pretty amazing,” Keel notes. “I had all the songs written before we ever met. I recorded scratch guitar tracks and then vocal for each on garage band and sent them to Gabe, to do with them whatever he thought would be cool. I was really surprised by the results. What Gabe makes, his best stuff, they are musical movies. He got what was going on in my songs, and he made musical movies about them. Its a really cool collaboration. We are both really proud of the record. In part because it’s nothing like anything either of us would do on our own.”
Keel is not your ordinary outsider. In his 60s, the long-time University of Texas professor, is well-known in the world of research mathematics. He has written a sword and sorcery novel, lots of short stories and poetry. He’s made three folk/jazz records with his family band, Bill the Pony, and one album of “super bare-bones folk-country music.” All self released, and all in complete obscurity. On the suggestion of a music friend he decided to have his latest record produced by a professional. Surprised by the results, he sent the first mix of the first song to Icons Creating Evil Art, hoping they would post it on their Youtube channel (The 'Discovered by ICEA' series). By happy chance, the label’s founder and owner was the one who listened. Impressed, and in an odd mood, he decided it was time to act on his long brewing scheme of giving a promotional push to a complete unknown.
The release of 'a dry scary blue' in the end of 2022 was the first step in the experiment, which got great reviews and landed Sean Keel an invitation to come plat the Live At Heart Festival in Örebro, Sweden - where he played several shows to full houses, both on his own and with his family in different settings (including a Bill the Pony show).

Carl-Marcus Gidlöf
Head of the Snake
Icons Creating Evil Art
Råsundavägen 73, Solna