Keith Sykes Don't Count Us Out

Sykes has had songs recorded by Jimmy Buffet, Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark, the Judds, Rosanne Cash, and John Prine, to name a few. He's released nine previous LPs, has been making music for over 30 years and he writes songs as good as anyone's, yet, amazingly, he's still pretty much flying under the radar and not showing up in the music guide books. John Prine is probably his closest musical touchstone, although there're also healthy doses of Bob Dylan and Steve Earle to be found. Prine shows up and duets on "Everybody Wants To Feel Like You," a rollicking roadhouse number that's one of the highlights. Just as good are the pair where long MIA Iris DeMent sits in. But then, the whole concept of highlights is slightly suspect when the quality is as uniformly high as it is here. Tracks range from plugged-in, full-band numbers to just Keith and his acoustic guitar and harmonica. A sterling example of the latter is "She Loves To Ride Horses," a co-write with Guy Clark. This is smart music for smart people. (Syren)