x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Keb' Mo': The Reflection

This album may play with fans' expectations of the artist, but it's not to be dismissed.

The Reflection

Yolabelle Records

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Kevin Moore may have burst on to the scene in 1994 as a blues-soaked guitarist - winning numerous fans in the process - but recent releases have seen him take a more upbeat, soul-inspired path.

The Reflection, then, seems like an odd name for an album that appears to carry on in the same direction. With barely an acoustic guitar to be heard, this is thick, slick soul and R&B, with slices of funk and jazz also finding room to breathe. And while it might confuse those who first heard Keb' Mo's eponymous debut, it's not something to be dismissed.

The first single, The Whole Enchilada, is a well-produced mid-tempo opener with some noodling basslines, while the fast-paced slap bass of Inside Outside helps liven things up. The slower tracks - such as Crush on You (which features India Arie) and The Reflection - offer the album's few wobbles, veering perhaps too much towards the Lighthouse Family rather than Sly and the Family Stone.

But the likes of The Shadow, with its funky guitar slaps, and Just Looking, which is screaming out to be the soundtrack for the next Shaft, keep the numbers firmly in the black. The Keb' Mo' of 2011 is a wholly different sound from the Keb' Mo' of 1994. But, while the blues may have gone, replaced with funk-infused soul and slickly produced R&B, he's still a masterful musician. Whether this is enough for him to keep hold of his original fan base, however, is another thing.