With few reservations the most talented songwriter on the blues scene in the last 20 years is Keb’ Mo’, and certainly the ability of a bluesman to write catchy melodies is not the best for his authenticity, as it tempts him to deviate by distorting his blues with material more friendly to the ears of the general public. However, despite the pop “resin” Kevin Roosevelt Moore is always Keb’ Mo’, a blues legend with his characteristic 1954 Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar.
Born in Los Angeles, in 1951, he followed the path of music from an early age, and in the 70’s he already played with names such as Papa John Creach, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Jefferson Starship. In the ’80s, he deepened his knowledge in blues playing in the band of Mink Higgins, while in 1994 he made his debut in discography with an amazing album, a great work (with covers by Robert Johnson and many of his own songs), which automatically placed him at the forefront of the contemporary blues scene.
Of course, the expectations of purebred blues fans, that they had finally found their hero -a bluesman who would launch a modernized but reverently faithful, pure from blues sound-, were quickly dashed, as Keb’ Mo’ has since poured enough water into his wine and enough pop in his blues. From 1998, with his “Just Like You”, until today, from album to album, he is increasingly moving away from the rules of blues, while maintaining them as an obvious backbone of his music. However, he can respond to any criticism for alleged fraud, not only with the 3 Grammys (which state that he managed to bring to the fore a marginalized genre) but also with songs of exceptional quality such as “Am I wrong”, “Perpetual Blues Machine”, “Everything I need”, “Door”, “Life is Beautiful”, “Henry”, “Better Man” and so many others which clearly show that he did not have to slip into bribery to sell.
Briefly, for those who like a more bluesy version of artists like James Taylor, Jackson Brown, or Bonnie Raitt, Keb’ Mo’ is an ideal listening experience. Fans of authentic blues should stay in the first three albums of him, and especially in the first one.
The latest release from Keb is “Good to be…” The album is a deeply cohesive and optimistic collection of music about appreciating what you’ve got, where you come from, and who you get to share it with.