Keb Mo: The Reflection

Guitarist Keb Mo bends those notes in a Memphis hot stew and when he starts singin’ there’s an inherent joyousness in his voice. When the girls come in to add some vocal sugar, he slides those notes like JJ Cale; understated, distinctly discreet, the effect on “The Whole Enchilada” is positively enchanting. The grooooove continues on “Inside Outside,” a tasty hunk of irresistible taffy. Ditto for “All The Way.”

Keb has always been the softer bluesman: He’s Al Green to Taj Mahal’s Otis Redding. His albums up to now, though, have lacked an inner toughness. Basically, they’ve been too nice. The Reflection is beyond nice, it’s downright celestial. Every note is in place. Heavenly. And steamy too. Like his duet with India.Arie, “Crush On You.” The heat rises here. Considerably. If the track was a movie, they’d be talkin’ ‘bout chemistry between these two. Maybe they got a little something goin’ on?

His cover of The Eagles’ “One Of These Nights” brings out the tune’s inherent soulfulness, proving yet again that most of those songs Don Henley and Glenn Frey wrote back in the ‘70s were soul songs. Mo gives the tune that slippery aesthetic it deserves, complete with alto sax solo by the great Dave Koz. The Vince Gill duet, “My Baby’s Tellin’ Lies,” features Gill’s unique “high lonesome” harmony and works beautifully in this context. You want funk? “Just Lookin’” is badass. Polite badass, though, ‘cause that’s how Mo rolls.

In A Word: Classy