Bluesman Keb’ Mo’ branches out on latest CD
Friday, December 2, 2011
If you go
What: Keb’ Mo’ in concert.
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 4.
Where: Aladdin Theater, 3017 S.E. Milwaukie Ave., Portland.
Cost: $50.80-$68.45 through Ticketmaster, 800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.
Information: http://aladdin-theater.com or 503-234-9694.
Ask Keb’ Mo’ why his latest CD, “The Reflection,” departs from his signature acoustic blues, heading into 1970s soul territory instead. The answer comes down to authenticity.
“I’m known as a blues guy,” Mo’ said in a recent phone interview. “I don’t have the blues. So how can I stand before an audience pretending to be something I’m not?”
Mo’ (whose real name is Kevin Moore), has dabbled outside of blues before. He’s tried his hand at gospel, soul, funk and even touches of country.
But he’s never strayed so far from his roots as on “The Reflection.” The album features upbeat numbers, such as “The Whole Enchilada” and “Just Lookin,’” as well as silky smooth songs like “Crush On You” and “We Don’t Need It.”
Since his self-titled 1994 debut, Keb’ Mo’ has developed a reputation as a link in a blues-music chain that includes Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Taj Mahal and Corey Harris. Along the way, Mo’ gradually expanded his sound, incorporating a full band on the Grammy-winning 1996 album “Just Like You” and subsequent releases, but bluesy acoustics have remained at the heart of his sound.
“My next album will probably be just hardcore (blues),” he said. “But I think in a sense of what I like to do, my mission statement in life and what I like to be, who I am, the blues is a part, but it’s not the whole deal.”
When he headed to the studio to record “The Reflection,” he was ready to explore new musical realms.
Mo’ said he spent about two years on the album, including time spent sharpening his skills as a musician and singer.
He hopes that those efforts will help him reach larger audiences.
Longtime fans of Keb’ Mo’ the blues musician can still count on familiar tunes at his upcoming concert, however.
“I have some of the favorites from the old albums, and then I have picked out about three or four songs from the new album to introduce it slowly into the repertoire,” Mo’ said.