CD Review: John Paul Keith – Memphis Circa 3AM
In this age when the American Idol formula translates to “hits”, what’s left of the music industry sounds pretty much the same. Thank God for releases like John Paul Keith’s Memphis Circa 3AM.
If you’re a fan of 50’s Sun Records recordings or artists like Arthur Alexander, Dann Penn, or Roy Orbison then you’re sure to like John Paul Keith’s Memphis Circa 3AM. As soon as one hears the first few seconds of the rockabilly tinged “You Outta Be With Me”, the listener knows he or she is in for a trip down memory lane circa Union Avenue, Memphis Tennessee.
Produced by former Sun Records house guitarist Roland Janes, the low-tech, organic production values place the emphasis where they belong, on the songwriter’s first rate songs. “We Got All Night” has a definite Chris Isaac feel to it and an incredibly soulful guitar solo within. “Everything’s
Different Now” is reminiscent of Peter Case and The Plimsouls of all people, and “Baby We’re a Bad Idea” throws a surf element into the mix. “Ninety Proof Kiss” or “True Hard Money” remind me of any number of Jerry Lee Lewis recordings I’ve heard. Fans of Arthur Alexander or Dan Penn have to hear New Year’s Eve, perhaps my favorite track on the disc.
Lyrically, Memphis Circa 3AM sounds as honest and personal as any disc I’ve heard in quite a while. Like contemporary John Fullbright or perhaps Randy Weeks, Keith’s roots-infused tales of longing, loss, and hard luck ring as authentic and genuine. And like Todd Herfinal, he can write a hook that’ll knock the socks off of any self-respecting powerpop fan.
Yesterday I was another man. Now I’m staring at the ceiling fan. Everything’s different. Everything’s different now.