Somewhere in Texas, there’s a little beach town where Keith Sykes finds himself once a year, in the wintertime. He holes up for a month, with the salty air and his guitar, unloading his mind of all the half-written lyrical lines and lonely guitar licks a year can bring.
He writes all kinds of songs when he’s there, as Keith Sykes is wont to do – after all, more than 100 of his songs have been recorded by artists as diverse as Rosanne Cash and George Thorogood – but when you find yourself in a little beach town, there’s a certain stripe of song you just can’t help but write: beach songs.
And so, this is the story of how a former member of Jimmy Buffet’s Coral Reefer Band came to write a sublime, transporting EP called Songs From A Little Beach Town.
“I’ve always had a natural tie to a certain kind of music anyway, even before I was a Coral Reefer,” Sykes says. “Because of my love of the islands, the little beach towns, and the people I meet when I’m in that environment.”
The first single from the EP, “Come As You Are Beach Bar,” is the story of some of those people. It came to life out of a snippet of guitar, Sykes says. “That’s what I had first, just a little guitar thing that I liked.”
Next thing he knew, he was waxing on the tale of Captain Bobby and a dive bar whose characters he paints so vividly you can almost feel yourself sitting next to them at the bar, salt spray and stale beer hanging in the air.
There’s a different feel to this song – Sykes is playful in his phrasing, almost spoken word – an indication that after more than 40 years in the business, Keith Sykes isn’t slowing down or taking it easy. He’s looking for new sounds, new ideas and new challenges. He’s risen to this one with splendid result.
Songs From A Little Beach Town is a perfect snapshot: sublime and sunny, the songs almost float. The title track “Little Beach Town,” “The Best Day” and the simple, sincere love song “I Pick You” round out the track list. Sykes recorded the EP in Nashville with engineer/producer Brent Maher (The Judds, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson) and a roster of some of the city’s best backing him up: Nir Z. (drums and percussion), Willie Weeks (bass), Bobby Ogden (piano and organ), Brent Mason (electric guitar) and Thom Flora (backing vocals).
With this EP, Sykes has dropped his suitcases in the trop rock world – fans will surely hope that this visit isn’t over too soon. Songs From A Little Beach Town will release on April 22, 2016 via KSM Entertainment.
The lead single, “Come As You Are Beach Bar,” premiered on SiriusXM’s Margaritaville Radio on February 1. Stream it here: