Keb' Mo' - Keep It Simple 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Dan MacIntosh   
Tuesday, 10 February 2004

format:    16-bit Stereo CD
label:    Epic/Okeh
release year:    2004
performance:    9
sound    8
reviewed by:    Dan MacIntosh

“I don’t wanna be a Superman,” Keb’ Mo’ admits on the title track of his fine new blues-rock album. Instead, he wants to keep “it simple, real simple.” And while it may be true that the Keb’ Mo’ formula is rather uncomplicated, it’s also a historically tried and true method, one that works to perfection almost every time.

Keb’ Mo’ is a master guitarist and a soulful singer. He’s also a witty lyricist as well. “Prosperity Blues,” for example, is like the antidote to your typical sad sack blues story. “My baby left me/But she came right back/When I gave her the keys/To that brand new Cadillac.” Instead of singing about everything that’s wrong with his life, this track finds Keb’ Mo’ moaning gleefully about just how good he’s got it. For a so-called blues singer, Keb’ Mo’ sure sounds like a happy guy the most of the time on this particular album. “Let Your Light Shine,” with its stuttering rhythm and bumping bass-driven melody, gives out the message that the greatest power against troubling times is self-confidence and personal righteousness, whereas “One Friend,” an acoustic blues number, is all about the priceless treasure of true friendship. “I’m Amazing” is full of thankfulness, with words like, “I’m grateful for the simple things/That I take for granted every day,” while “Closer” delights in the intimacy created by true love: “Let’s get closer/A little bit closer”

Keb’ Mo’ is not a completely happy fellow throughout, however, or he wouldn’t truly be a blues singer. The regretful track “Proving You Wrong,” for instance, tells the story of how one partner may have won an argument, and thus the battle, but ultimately lost the war in the whole process. After crying about sacrificing his wife and family, this song certainly does not celebrate his hollow victory.

It’s worth noting that this album features a few notable special guests, also. “House In California,” which is aided by extra vocal help from Vince Gill and Amy Grant, speaks about finally finding a home in a warmer climate. “Riley B. King,” which is spiced by organ to give it a little of that Al Green-ish Southern soul flavor, spotlights guitar solos by both Robert Cray and Robben Ford. The song is a tribute to B.B. (which stands for Blues Boy, by the way) King, as Riley B. King is actually that blues man’s real name. Keb’ Mo’ just brought along a few fellow King disciples to help him praise the simple beauty that is B.B. King.

With “Keep It Simple,” Keb’ Mo’ has created a winning album from start to finish, which is a task that is a whole lot harder than it looks. Nevertheless, he makes it look so easy and simple.

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