(Big Legal Mess)
With all the genre-bustin’, label-defyin’ and musical
innovatin’ goin’ on, at least within the pages of music magazines and the lanes
of the information superhighway, it’s nice to hear someone still celebrating
the simple virtues of guitars, choruses and tunes. Like kindred spirits Ben
Vaughan, the Skeletons and Rockpile, John Paul Keith has championed these
values since the late ‘90s when he led the Nevers, and continued to do so with
his band the One Four Fives on 2009’s calling card Spills and Thrills.
That’s not to say Keith is regressive or closed to ideas,
mind you – there’s plenty of variety on his latest LP The Man That Time Forgot. From the egg-frying rockabilly of “Dry
County” to the jazzy balladry of “Songs For Sale,” the country skip of “You
Devil You” to the honky-tonk lament of “The Last Last Call,” the Tex-Mex garage
of “Afraid to Look” to the easygoing soul-pop of “Somebody Ought to Write a
Song About You” and the electric folk of the title track, Keith moves
confidently and comfortably, like a worn but faithful suit whose only change is
color. As equally obsessed the music business (“Anyone Can Do It,” “I Work at
Night,” “Never Could Say No”) as with love, the man pulls no punches but does
it with a smile and willingness to buy you a beer, making his work easy to love
by keeping it approachable.
Keith’s instantly appealing singing and tasteful guitar
skills might be the immediate ear-catchers, but it’s his way with a catchy
melody and compelling lyrics that keep your attention riveted.
Ought to Write a Song About You,” “The Man That Time Forgot,” “Anyone Can Do It”