Mr. Kevin Moore, aka Keb’ Mo’, burst on the scene in 1994 with his self-titled and successful debut album on the Okeh label. Since then, he has emerged as one of the most significant contemporary bluesmen, in part because he is seamlessly perfect in his delivery, authentic to the core and easily accessible, even to those who may not be hardcore aficionados of the genre.
His blues can be folk and pop-oriented and occasionally with a tinge of jazz, but always clean and easy, never heavy, gritty and rough. That does not mean he can’t get down, which he can do with the best of them. Yet, his blues appeals to the same audience as his friends and frequent collaborators Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne. There is a light-hearted, lilting and upbeat manner in his style that people respond to favorably. On the other hand, he’s not far removed from his inspiration Robert Johnson and his modern interpretations of RJ. If ever one needed to explain to the completely uninitiated Keb’ Mo’s style, it wouldn’t be out of order to say that he is blues what smooth-jazz is to jazz. So, call it smooth-blues, it’s all good.
There is more diversity in the genre than most people recognize. The pop-oriented, smooth-blues of Keb’ Mo’ are still firmly rooted in the old Delta blues. When he gets the slide out and struts his stuff up the fretboard there is no doubt that he can get on fire. There is no shortage of authenticity and soul in his music, but he manages to keep it appealing to a wide audience. As such, there are many people who don’t identify themselves as blues fans, who like and appreciate the blues of Keb’ Mo’.
A superb songwriter, storyteller, consummate performer and major ambassador for the genre, Keb’ Mo’ is a real entertainer, always with the right hat and a real snappy sense of neo-blues fashion. He often performs with a full band, but does enough solo acoustic work to focus on the traditional style. Audiences especially love his passionate Robert Johnson covers and his enthralling storytelling. No wonder Keb’ Mo’ is one of the major players in the genre, and his success aptly testifies to the enduring legacy of this music.
Keb’ Mo’s self-titled debut on OKeh is a wonderful CD and a fine introduction to the artist. His original song “Every Morning” still ranks as one of the best new songs in the genre ever written.