Bluesamericana, by Keb’ Mo’

August 27, 2014

You can call Keb’ Mo’ a lot of things, but “unpredictable” isn’t one of them. His blues tradition is more down-home than hard-charging, more Delta than Chicago. His 11th album is basically more of this, and as usual it sounds great. Keb’ Mo’ doesn’t reinvent himself. Keb’ Mo’ plays the blues.

He does mix things up with some gospel harmonies, which really work, and some poppier down-tempo tunes, which really don’t. (“For Better or Worse” is a musical low point, though I do appreciate the song’s let’s-save-this-marriage theme.) But this is all standard variety for Mo’; he’s never been a Delta-in-amber purist. The one place he really stretches himself here is in “Old Me Better,” a New Orleans romp complete with horns and kazoos and tinkling piano. It’s a bit out of place, an obvious genre detour. But who cares? Like most of the record’s up-tempo tunes, it’s loads of fun.