|Personnel: Keith Sykes (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, harmonica, maracas, tambourine); Eric Lewis (guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, slide guitar, lap steel guitar, mandolin, bass instrument, background vocals); John Inmon (electric guitar); Ross Rice (piano, Hammond b-3 organ, background vocals); Dave Cochran (bass instrument, background vocals); Dave Smith (bass instrument); Kurt Ruleman (drums, background vocals); Zack Taylor (drums); Jed Zimmerman, Rebecca Evans Russell, Reba Russell, Jeff Powell, Jimmy Davis , Kelley Mickwee (background vocals).
|Keith Sykes never got as famous as the likes of Willie Nelson, or even Jerry Jeff Walker, although he traveled in the same outlaw country circles as them ol' boys. His 2004 album, All I Know, makes plain the connections between that '70s-vintage commingling of country and rock & roll and the more recent crossbreeding that got dubbed alternative country: this album could have come out on some little Lubbock or Austin-based label in 1975 or on the Chicago indie Bloodshot 20 years later. The most Walker-like tune here is the hilarious "Keith Sykes Is Sorry," a hugely catchy apology preceded by the talking blues "Explanation of Keith Sykes Is Sorry," both of which take aim at the singer/songwriter's innate inability to properly play the music industry's game on its own terms, but the rest of the album is a casually brilliant amalgam of country and pop influences ranging from the forlorn ballad "Hard Luck and Old Dogs" (one of only two non-originals on the album) to the wistful "A Long Monday," a duet with John Prine that's got the best chorus on the album. He may not be famous, but that's nothing to do with the quality of this album. ~ Stewart Mason