Tommy Keene: Sweet But Swaggering

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Thursday's Pick

  • Song: "Please Don't Come Around"
  • Artist: Tommy Keene
  • CD: In the Late Bright
  • Genre: Rock
Tommy Keene 300

Tommy Keene's "Please Don't Come Around" struts with confident, bitter, blues-defying arrogance. courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of the artist

After almost 30 years as a power-pop musician's power-pop musician, singer-songwriter Tommy Keene can unfurl a smoldering mid-tempo rocker as easily as most people breathe. He's enviably consistent, and when he mixes lyrical bile and guitar jangle just right, as on "Please Don't Come Around," he manages a lot more.

Keene's words sound like fragments of a conversation overheard from the next table — a juicy but mysterious exchange in which the parties seem to be rehashing every misstep in a failed relationship. "Your art lessons / That's where you'll find the next one." "The barflies need correction." "There's a lot of rain inside the lighthouse / but you don't know it now." But if the words are more evocative than incisive, Keene's sweet but swaggering vocals make it perfectly clear that he's come out ahead.

The arrangement struts with the kind of confident, bitter arrogance that so often serves as the first step toward beating the blues. The power chords that roil under Keene's vocals, the nearly spat tagline "So please don't come around," and the mini-rave-ups that bracket the last verse all flip the bird at self-pity. By the time the song rushes to its conclusion, it's clear that everything will work out just fine.

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In the Late Bright

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