Perhaps the cowpoke looking off into the distance on the cover of this debut from Knoxville’s Have Nots is leader John Paul Keith searching for a last name, or maybe for someone named George Ringo Mick with whom he can form a Beatles/Stones cover band as a side project. Regardless, somewhere along the line, erstwhile V-roy Keith (he left before Just Add Ice was recorded and, as leader of the Nevers, recorded an unreleased album for Sire) definitely found songwriting smarts as well as a homey voice that charms with its earnestness and affability.
Keith and company have at a variety of styles on the twelve songs here, including a couple of Marshall Crenshaw-styled pop/early rock hybrids (“She Put The Hurt On Me” and “Knoxville Town”) and the kind of twangpop favored by Keith’s aforementioned former outfit (“Fragile”).
“Best Mistake (I’d Ever Make Again)” and “Bad Boy” are close kin to the rock-savvy, torn-jeans country that’s all over Dwight Yoakam’s latest. And with “Blue All Over”, there’s even a classically constructed country weeper — complete with unassuming solos of both pedal steel and fiddle — that’s given the same appealing no-great-expectations presentation as its compatriots.