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Blues - Released May 31, 1996 | Okeh - Epic

Distinctions Exceptional sound
On his second album, Keb' Mo' begins to expand the borders of his Delta blues by recording with a full band on a couple of tracks and attempting more expansive, rock-based song structures. The attempts aren't entirely successful and it's ironic that he decided to try rock-oriented material after he received such praise for his traditionalist debut. Still, there are a few songs on the album that rank with the best on his first album, which suggests that Just Like You is merely a sophomore slump. ~ Thom Owens
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Blues - Released June 14, 2019 | Concord Records

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Faithful. 25 years since his career began, Kevin Roosevelt Moore – a.k.a Keb’ Mo – has always remained deeply faithful to the blues. A righteous path which has never kept him from adding his own stone to a building which already has many, many builders. Oklahoma in that sense is an original project – a stone of his own, if you will. There are no links between him, his story and that state which borders Colorado and Kansas to the north, Missouri and Arkansas to the east, New Mexico to the west and Texas to the south. In 2013, Keb’ Mo, along with Kenny Wayne Shepherd, travelled there for a disaster relief fund concert, following a deadly tornado. Friendships were born, along with a need to create something which would be anchored to that region. Keb’ Mo’s blues is intertwined with country, native American and folk music; Robert Randolph and his impressionistic lap steel playing came along, with Rosanne Cash, as well as Taj Mahal – with whom he wrote the album TajMo in 2017. True to himself, his lyrics scrutinize America’s internalized suffering as well our era’s new set of problems.© Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Blues - Released January 17, 2017 | Epic - 550 Music - Okeh

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Keb' Mo''s self-titled first album, from its Robert Johnson covers to its appearance on a resuscitated Okeh Records, seemed to suggest the arrival of a Delta blues traditionalist, even though the former Kevin Moore was really a Los Angeles native who had kicked around the music business for years playing various styles of music. The follow-up, Just Like You, was therefore a disappointment to blues purists, since it clearly used folk-blues as a basis to create adult contemporary pop in the Bonnie Raitt mold. But to the music industry, that was just fine, since it fostered the hope that here was an artist (finally!) who could find a way to make the blues -- consistently revered but commercially dicey -- pay, and Keb' Mo' won a Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy for his effort. Slow Down (1998) brought him a second Grammy and got even higher in the charts. The Door is more of the same. Keb' Mo''s slightly gritty voice and fingerpicking are the focus of the music, but he does not hesitate to add mainstream pop elements, beginning with writing partners who include Bobby McFerrin and Melissa Manchester, and continuing with a backup band that features such session aces as keyboard player Greg Phillinganes and drummer Jim Keltner. This is music that is folkish and bluesy rather than being actual folk-blues. Just in case anyone hasn't gotten the point yet, Keb' Mo' begins the album's sole cover, Elmore James' "It Hurts Me Too," in authentic folk-blues style, after which the arrangement lurches into a heavily percussive, anything but traditional direction. It's fair warning that the singer/guitarist is interested in tradition only as a jumping-off point. Maybe that's what "contemporary blues" is. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Blues - Released May 12, 1994 | Okeh - Epic

Keb' Mo's self-titled debut is an edgy, ambitious collection of gritty country blues. Keb' Mo' pushes into new directions, trying to incorporate some of the sensibilites of the slacker revolution without losing touch of the tradition that makes the blues the breathing, vital art form it is. His attempts aren't always successful, but his gutsy guitar playing and impassioned vocals, as well as his surprisingly accomplished songwriting, make Keb' Mo' a debut to cherish. ~ Thom Owens
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Blues - Released August 13, 1998 | Okeh - 550 Music

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Blues - Released June 14, 2019 | Concord Records

Faithful. 25 years since his career began, Kevin Roosevelt Moore – a.k.a Keb’ Mo – has always remained deeply faithful to the blues. A righteous path which has never kept him from adding his own stone to a building which already has many, many builders. Oklahoma in that sense is an original project – a stone of his own, if you will. There are no links between him, his story and that state which borders Colorado and Kansas to the north, Missouri and Arkansas to the east, New Mexico to the west and Texas to the south. In 2013, Keb’ Mo, along with Kenny Wayne Shepherd, travelled there for a disaster relief fund concert, following a deadly tornado. Friendships were born, along with a need to create something which would be anchored to that region. Keb’ Mo’s blues is intertwined with country, native American and folk music; Robert Randolph and his impressionistic lap steel playing came along, with Rosanne Cash, as well as Taj Mahal – with whom he wrote the album TajMo in 2017. True to himself, his lyrics scrutinize America’s internalized suffering as well our era’s new set of problems.© Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Blues - Released September 5, 2003 | Epic - Legacy

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Blues - Released October 16, 2005 | Epic - One Haven - Red Ink

On Suitcase, his eighth studio release, Keb' Mo' (Kevin Moore) reunites with John Porter, the producer of Moore's critically lauded first album, and the result is a pleasant, midtempo suite of songs dedicated to the emotional baggage everyone carries with them as they plow through increasingly complicated lives in search of peace, love, and some measure of personal redemption. Moore covers this ground with a wink and a grin in his voice, though, and Suitcase emerges as a wry commentary on modern life that still manages to sound bright and positive, beginning with the effervescent, sprung reggae rhythm of the opening track, "Your Love," one of the best cuts here. Other highlights include the lovely ballad, "Still There for Me," a celebration of the little man and his private victories, "I'm a Hero," and the soothing, hopeful shuffle that closes things out, "Life Is Beautiful." Moore is generally classified as a blues player, but the truth is, aside from his first album, he has actually done very little true blues material, and it is probably more accurate to call what he does blues-informed, but even that ignores the point that he is probably much closer in tone, theme, and feel to James Taylor than he is to Robert Johnson or any other blues figure. He does turn to the blues here, though, on the title track, "Suitcase," and morphs it into a wonderfully engaging song about what people bring into a romantic relationship and what they take away in the end, making full use of the "emotional baggage" connection inherent in the title. It is Keb' Mo' at his best, drawing on his ability to synthesize roots forms like the blues into completely contemporary commentaries on the struggles, travails, and blind faith in personal redemption that accompanies people as they slog their way daily ever deeper into the 21st century. ~ Steve Leggett
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Blues - Released January 23, 2004 | Epic - Okeh

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Folk/Americana - Released February 12, 1998 | Sony Wonder

The rise in the number of titles in the children's music category around the turn of the century was accompanied by a shift in the approach to such recordings. As baby boomers, who remain loyal record buyers, have become parents, the artists who appeal to them have turned to children's music, but it often seems as though the records are still being made for the boomers, not their children. Though the recordings often concern the subjects of childhood and parenting, it is often hard to imagine a child actually enjoying the music. Such is the case with the Keb' Mo' children's album, Big Wide Grin, which is better regarded as a regular Keb' Mo' album on the theme of family rather than an album for children. The singer covers a number of pop evergreens from the late '60s and 1970s -- the O'Jays' "Love Train," Bill Withers' "Grandma's Hands," the Winstons' "Color Him Father," Sly and the Family Stone's "Family Affair," Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi," and Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" -- and he reaches back even further for the swing-era standard "The Flat Foot Floogie" and "America the Beautiful." All of these are likely to be familiar to parents of a certain age, and most have something to do with family issues, but only a couple are likely to appeal to children. This is not to say that, to be a children's album, a record must be filled with singalongs for the preschool set. But albums like this belong to a recent subset of the children's market that should perhaps be labeled "parents' music." In the case of Keb' Mo', the recording serves to ease him even more in the direction of being a folk-pop interpreter, an approach he has embraced increasingly since initially coming across as a new-style folk-blues singer. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Blues - Released August 2, 2011 | Yolabelle International

Booklet
Being labeled and marketed as a blues musician was never really a good fit for Keb' Mo'. True, he first came to the attention of most when he came out of Compton playing Robert Johnson songs on a National Steel guitar, and that’s how his recording career started, but this is a guy who used to be a staff songwriter for A&M Records, so he has always had plenty of pop, soul, R&B, and jazz in his kit bag and, truth be known, he’s really closer to an artist like James Taylor than he is to Howlin’ Wolf. His new album, The Reflection, the first on his own Yolabelle record imprint (he also self-produced the album) after several releases with Sony, has nothing on it that could be called blues, and nothing that even really comes close. It’s a calm, easy, and mellow mixture of adult pop, urban soul, and very light funk, but then Mo' has been flirting with this kind of thing for a couple of albums now and it’s clear that this is closer to what he’s all about than being a blues preservationist -- which he really never was in the first place. The sound on this release is crisp and warm, smooth as honey, and never jarring, as Mo' muses on love and its difficulties in different settings, his vocals full of sincerity and good will. It’s all as pleasant as an easy summer afternoon, which is both a strength here and a problem. Nothing about The Reflection has an edge of any sort and as song after song rolls by, it gets lulling, and only a handful of the songs immediately stand out, most notably “We Don’t Need It,” a timely song about a man who loses his job and has to come home and tell his family, and “Crush on You,” which features guest vocals from India.Arie and has a charmingly light and innocent groove to it. A version of the Eagles' “One of These Nights,” which features alto sax from Dave Koz, also stands out, but not for the right reasons. Mo' has turned the song, which was fueled by the feeling of desperate lust in the original Eagles version, into a gentle song of yearning, and while the lyrics and melody still work in a more relaxed setting, the song really doesn’t generate the edge it needs to truly resonate. Keb' Mo' never was Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, or Muddy Waters, but he isn’t quite James Taylor yet, either. The Reflection is a warm outing, and it’s easy to like the sound of it, but all smooth honey makes one hungry for something with a little bit more of a kick to it now and then. ~ Steve Leggett
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Blues - Released September 30, 2011 | Yolabelle International

Being labeled and marketed as a blues musician was never really a good fit for Keb' Mo'. True, he first came to the attention of most when he came out of Compton playing Robert Johnson songs on a National Steel guitar, and that’s how his recording career started, but this is a guy who used to be a staff songwriter for A&M Records, so he has always had plenty of pop, soul, R&B, and jazz in his kit bag and, truth be known, he’s really closer to an artist like James Taylor than he is to Howlin’ Wolf. His new album, The Reflection, the first on his own Yolabelle record imprint (he also self-produced the album) after several releases with Sony, has nothing on it that could be called blues, and nothing that even really comes close. It’s a calm, easy, and mellow mixture of adult pop, urban soul, and very light funk, but then Mo' has been flirting with this kind of thing for a couple of albums now and it’s clear that this is closer to what he’s all about than being a blues preservationist -- which he really never was in the first place. The sound on this release is crisp and warm, smooth as honey, and never jarring, as Mo' muses on love and its difficulties in different settings, his vocals full of sincerity and good will. It’s all as pleasant as an easy summer afternoon, which is both a strength here and a problem. Nothing about The Reflection has an edge of any sort and as song after song rolls by, it gets lulling, and only a handful of the songs immediately stand out, most notably “We Don’t Need It,” a timely song about a man who loses his job and has to come home and tell his family, and “Crush on You,” which features guest vocals from India.Arie and has a charmingly light and innocent groove to it. A version of the Eagles' “One of These Nights,” which features alto sax from Dave Koz, also stands out, but not for the right reasons. Mo' has turned the song, which was fueled by the feeling of desperate lust in the original Eagles version, into a gentle song of yearning, and while the lyrics and melody still work in a more relaxed setting, the song really doesn’t generate the edge it needs to truly resonate. Keb' Mo' never was Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, or Muddy Waters, but he isn’t quite James Taylor yet, either. The Reflection is a warm outing, and it’s easy to like the sound of it, but all smooth honey makes one hungry for something with a little bit more of a kick to it now and then. ~ Steve Leggett
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Pop - Released September 21, 2004 | Okeh - Epic

Peace...Back by Popular Demand finds Keb' Mo' covering nine classic protest and peace songs from the 1960s and early '70s, and what is immediately apparent is how well these songs translate forward into the current political milieu. This is an album where the songs themselves are the stars, and Keb' Mo' wisely takes a low-key and measured vocal approach to each of them, letting the messages take hold over light soul-jazz backings, with just enough funk in the horn charts to give the arrangements some push. It's hard to argue with the song selection, but as an interpreter, Mo' seldom makes any of these tracks his own, and behind each stands the ghostly but clear memory of the original version. Perhaps that would be unavoidable under any circumstances, because songs like John Lennon's "Imagine" and Marvin Gaye's "What's Happening Brother" are so perfectly realized in the original recordings, but if the idea here is to give the messages of these songs a new cachet in a new era, then only a couple of them are given a redefinition by Mo' that would allow it. One that does work in a new guise is the opening track, a spunky, light soul rendition of Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth." The song seems to have gained wisdom and import as the years have passed, and in the hands of Keb' Mo' it becomes both universal and danceable. Less successful is Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding," which is also given a heavy makeover, emerging in a swampy string band version that makes the song feel somehow less urgent. The cover here of Gaye's "What's Happening Brother" works because Mo' stays close to the original template, and given that Gaye pretty much invented the jazzy soul approach on his classic What's Going On album (an album that hardly needs redefinition to be vital in a contemporary setting), this is a wise choice. Delivering a perfectly nuanced vocal on Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Free," Mo' brings out the hard-earned wisdom and hope inherent in the song's lyrics, as well as preserving its natural elegance. The simple vocal-and-piano approach to Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" strips the song of its defiant swagger, replacing it with a kind of cautious -- but hopeful -- resignation that is surprisingly effective in shining a different kind of light on the lyrics. There is one Keb' Mo' original on the album, "Talk," which takes as its premise a one-on-one talk with the President of the United States, a notion that will seem like science fiction for most listeners. Obviously Mo' isn't trying to top the Hit Parade with anything here, and his effort to bring these important songs into a new light is laudable. Peace...Back by Popular Demand is not a major album, but it does have some major things to say, or re-say, in this case, and it serves as a reminder that every era could use (and deserves) some peace. ~ Steve Leggett

Blues - Released June 13, 2011 | Yolabelle International

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Blues - Released February 3, 2004 | Epic - Okeh

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Ambient/New Age - Released October 24, 2011 | Yolabelle International