Kind Of Blue Music – 2016
CD 1: 8 tracks; 40 minutes. CD2: 8 tracks; 40 minutes.
This beautifully packaged (all, indeed, in pink) two disc set was recorded at a range of North American venues during Keb’s tour to promote his BLUESAmericana album and features tracks from that album together with some of his best known songs from across his career. Keb wrote everything here, with some co-writers here and there and the band is Keb on vocals, guitars and harp, Michael B Hicks on keyboards, Stan Sargeant on bass and Casey Wasner on drums; everyone adds backing vocals and Casey also produced and engineered the record. Keb switches effortlessly between acoustic, slide and electric guitars and the whole disc is relaxed, pleasant listening. Acoustic opener “Tell Everybody I Know” provides possibly the closest comparison with Keb’s early inspiration, Taj Mahal and “Somebody Hurt You” finds Keb on electric on a blues with call and response vocals from the band. Keb picks up his resonator for the old favourite “Henry” which looks back to a world long gone and maintains the gentle mood for “Life Is Beautiful” on which Michael’s string effect keys support Keb’s vocal on a song that is achingly beautiful. If that one is too sweet for your taste the uptempo “She Just Wants To Dance” is bound to please with Keb’s slide set against some bouncy bass and is followed by two tunes that show off his sense of humour, the rocking “The Worst Is Yet To Come” and “Government Cheese” before closing with the title track of one of his earlier albums “The Door”.
Disc 2 follows a similar pattern. “Come On Back” again features strings courtesy of the keyboard and “France” is always a fun tune to hear with its loping rhythm and amusing lyrics which are well received by the audience. The lyrical “More Than One Way Home” has an uplifting chorus and room for a short bass feature before we get two songs which share similar titles: “A Better Man” is a lively tune with some Caribbean lilt and some brief audience participation whereas “The Old Me Better” is an acoustic tune with Keb on kazoo and some more comical lyrics in which Keb finds that his new lady may not have improved things: “I liked the old me better, I was a lot more fun, I liked the old me better, I didn’t take crap from anyone”. The groove of “Rita” sounds a little like vintage Steely Dan (especially in Keb’s tricky solo) before an extended reading of what is undoubtedly Keb’s best known (and most covered) tunes, “Dangerous Mood” allows Keb space for his electric guitar work, the audience following every lyrical twist of this engaging tale of seduction. “City Boy” closes the album in reflective mood as Keb’s gentle lyrics are brilliantly supported by Michael’s piano.
Long-time fans will lap up this album and anyone whose collection is short on Keb material can buy this one without hesitation as it takes the best of his work and presents it very sympathetically.