In this episode of Back to the City, Pat Keen re-examines every song on his new album, Albatross. That title is a word that can mean “something that greatly hinders accomplishment,” he explains, and this LP is a record of his efforts to acknowledge and overcome a series of such encumbrances.
Keen says that after a difficult tour with Guerilla Toss and a long period of disagreement with his mother, to whom the record is dedicated, he “realized how to leave behind the Pat that couldn’t be alone” by retreating to the mountains and relying on his most trusted friends. After acknowledging what he’s learned by studying music theory under Happy Birthday’s Chris Weisman and sound poetry with poet-in-residence at the New England Conservatory of Music Ruth Lepson, Keen reconsiders his album alongside Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” the original source for the image of bearing an albatross about one’s neck. Finally, Keen considers some connections between the way Albatross sounds and the means by which he shed his own albatrosses.
Editor's note: City Pages is proud to be hosting writer Simon Calder's Back to the City: MPLS Music Conversation podcast on a bi-weekly basis. The podcast is recorded and edited independently, and the views expressed by Calder and his guests are their own.