Michael Keeth’s new album, Shed The Skin, is the definition of simple. It’s all him: his voice, his acoustic guitar, a second acoustic guitar to add depth to the mix and honest songwriting. There isn’t any flashiness or over production here. And that seems to be the intent. Keeth could have easily layered this record with an abundance of instruments behind him, or asked any number of local musicians to add their flavor to his compositions. The choice to be stripped down is to be applauded. He leaves the listener an open invitation to digest raw emotions without any façade to hide behind.
Keeth has spent over a decade making music in various outfits: Phallus, House of Broken Promises and most recently Roads of Rome. All the while he has held fast to his greatest strengths: his voice, his acoustic guitar and his songs. As far as male singers go here in the Coachella Valley – and this means no disrespect to the many talented male singers out there that work hard and sound fantastic – but his vocals are probably the purest and strongest. Here they shine as he reveals his current state of mind.
Keeth points the microscope internally, pushing himself to not be complacent, deceptive or regretful in several tracks such as “Shed the Skin”, “Another Year”, “Everything“ and “Love or Pain.” It seems that he wants to avoid the b.s. that so much of life can bring, and he asks the listener to do the same. On the other side of things, “Purified” is an unbridled celebration of finding a love that is complete. All of these emotions a delivered with authority and sincerity, while foregoing any pretentiousness or anger. He is comfortable and confident in being who he his and who he is becoming. Certainly being a husband and father, while balancing a passion to create music, has an influence on his perspective.
Acoustic albums are wonderful in that you get to hear songs in their most basic states. Keeth’s talent makes this easy and enjoyable. Listening through the 43 minutes is as if you were just hanging out watching him play in the same room. On the flip side, I can’t help wanting to hear several songs performed with a full band. Here’s hoping that we might get that chance soon.
Michael Keeth truly is one the hardest working musicians out there, playing six nights a week. You can catch him weekly at the Cork Tree, The Viceroy Hotel and The Riviera Hotel. You can also check him out on Facebook at Michael Keeth Music.