Keb’ Mo’ Makes Melody Wrapped In Personality on ‘Live- That Hot Pink Blues Album’ (ALBUM REVIEW)


kebmoliveThere are many ways to tackle the blues. The music can be mournful, hopeful, Southern stirred or Chicago situated. Although it’s a well-defined form, it can be interpreted from a strict template or expanded by pushing at the parameters. As in any genre, there are those who pay reverence to precedents and others who revisit and revise it in their own image.

Keb’ Mo’ mostly falls into the latter category. Like Taj Mahal, a singular presence whom he’s often emulated, Mo’ makes a sound that’s as much about melody and his own particular personality as it is about form and tradition. In his hands, the blues often digresses from the norm, placing as much emphasis on rhythm and melody as it does on form and function.

LIVE- That Hot Pink Blues Album showcases that stance in the best of settings, that is, live before an appreciative audience. Recorded at various venues large and small during his 2015 tour, it boasts 16 standout songs culled from throughout his career. Spread over two discs, it finds Mister Mo’ in a mostly cheery mood, conveying his typically sprightly strut and saunter with a supreme sense of well-warranted confidence. As hinted in their titles “Tell Everybody I Know,” “A Better Man,” “Life Is Beautiful” and “The Old Me Better” exemplify that breezy approach with a zest and zeal that effectively has become a Keb’ Mo’ signature sound. Indeed, the positive perspective is, in itself, well worth the price of admission.

Likewise, Mo’ also shows his skill at putting audiences in a mellow mood, and on tracks like “Somebody Hurt You” and “Come On Back” he slows the pace and settles into a cool groove. There again, he shows his talent for combining humor, reflection and empathy in songs that reflect the subtler side of this particular discipline. The result is an album that literally helps define the blues at its best.

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