I’ve mentioned before that my favorite music genre is rock and roll, though if I had to pick a least favorite, it would absolutely be country. I mean no disrespect to anyone who enjoys the genre, but I’ve always felt like every country song is the exact same, typically involving a girl, some beer, or a horse. While I am slightly exaggerating, country has always annoyed me with its constant, ear-wrenching crooning and twanging. I just can’t stand it! So what happens when you combine my least favorite genre with my favorite? Honestly, you get some interesting tracks from Keeton Coffman.
Keeton Coffman is a Houston-based artist that practices a genre he describes as “Heartland Rock and Roll.” Keeton takes the Texas music style and infuses it with rock and roll, forming his own style. At one point, Coffman was a part of the band The 71s for six years. However, at the end of 2012, the band broke up due to Coffman’s desire to write songs how he wanted to, even though they had just released “We Are The Seventy Ones,” their most successful album yet that was starting to get notoriety. When describing the band’s dissolve on his website, Coffman says, “Breaking up the band was a divorce. It was painful, messy, and emotional. It left many scars, but made some great songs.” Afterwards, Coffman went on to write fifty songs over the course of eighteen months, leading up to eleven songs being put together onto his newest album, “Killer Eyes.”
After listening to Coffman’s album of eleven songs, I have to say I highly enjoyed every single song much to my surprise. I can clearly see the country influences when I listen to his songs, but for some reason, they don’t bother me. Perhaps it has to do with their muted presence? When you combine multiple genres, certain aspects from each become softened. For example, “The Mountain,” one of my favorite songs on the album, is quite grand-standing. It has this loud folk sound that makes me think of a song that might appear on a kids’ show like Sesame Street. It almost sounds as if trumpets are being played in the background, at least in this version. When I looked up this song on YouTube, I found a music video that was much more subdued with only Coffman playing his guitar. This video version is definitely more country, but I still liked it almost as much as the album version. The song describes the narrator climbing a mountain and finding someone—most likely a woman—drowning in a pond. He wants to save her and go towards a light with her. From what I can guess, this song is describing the struggles of life as a mountain that we have to climb. We struggle sometimes, but there is still goodness in the dark times. You simply have to go for it. This song truly showcases Coffman’s Texas roots, as he does croon like some country singers, but it’s so soft and controlled that it makes you want to hear him sing more.
Another interesting song is the titular track. This is another one I like for an odd reason, because this one is much closer to a country song than the others. It involves the narrator singing about a woman who can make everything in his life better in an instant, simply with her eyes. We see this in lines like, “Your killer eyes take black and make it blue.” The guitar-playing sounds country as well, emanating that usual twang and smokehouse flair, although it’s fast-paced with some rock elements. It reminds me of Counting Crows’ song, “Accidentally in Love,” with not only the instrumentals, but the duet with a female singer and the romance-filled lyrics. Normally, I should despise this kind of song, but the harmony between Coffman and the other singer feels legitimate. I could see the two of them falling in love due to each other’s eyes. It’s definitely a worthwhile song that deserved to have the album named after it.
One other song that stuck out to me was “Let Her Go,” which opens with a harmony of strings followed by fast-paced guitar and drums. From the moment Coffman starts to sing, this song feels epic, at least in the instrumentals. I’ll be honest—it can be hard to understand what is being sung besides “Let her go.” The stereotypically country crooning peaks here, as Coffman sings softly and his lyrics become slurred. However, this small issue doesn’t make this song terrible, thanks to the phenomenal instrumentals. Those playing sound so talented, making this song sound incredible with every note struck.
Lyrics aside, the guitar work is the song’s redeeming quality. Coffman’s music is an experience that defies both genres, causing anyone who hears it to enjoy every moment they hear. I understand everyone has their favorite type of music, but it’s good to try listening to different styles every once in a while. Whether you love country or not, or maybe you have mixed feelings about rock, Coffman’s style will make you want to hear more and more. Coming from someone who despises country with a passion, I’m definitely looking forward to Coffman’s next release.