John Paul Keith is a blistering guitarist and singer, and the kind of songwriter who makes great melodies and incredible lyrics sound effortless. His new album The Man That Time Forgot will be released on June 21st on Big Legal Mess via Fat Possum Records. Produced by Fat Possum’s Bruce Watson, it captures the spirit and energy of the live shows performed by Keith and his band the One Four Fives, but explores a wider range of themes and influences — echoes of Tex-Mex, garage rock, countrypolitan, mid-60’s soul/pop, fiery rockabilly, and even Mose Allison’s brand of jazz-blues. It’s around about the third listen the realization comes: These songs are incredible. From the Sir Douglas-like opener, “Never Could Say No”, to the wry, closing-time waltz, “The Last Last Call”, this is the work of an amazing songwriter.
John Paul Keith grew up outside of Knoxville, the son of a truck driver. He learned to sing in church and he learned to play guitar when he was ten and his father gave him an acoustic and a copy of Chuck Berry’s Golden Hits and The Best of B.B. King. It was the first music he ever heard that wasn’t country or spirituals–he didn’t hear the Beatles until he was nearly in high school. By the time he was seventeen, he was drawing big crowds in Knoxville as a member of the Viceroys, and then quit the band because he didn’t like the direction the music was headed. By twenty-one, he had moved to Nashville and formed his own band, and got signed to a major label within months. It was a meteoric rise by a kid everyone in the industry had their eyes on–and wanted their hooks in.