Moore starts from the folk-blues and goes to create something almost pop. The focus throughout is on his great voice and amazing guitar playing, but he adds such mainstream influences as Bobby McFerrin, a full band with session aces player Greg Phillinganes (keyboard) and Jim Keltner (drums).
11 of the 12 tracks are Moore originals, some with collaborators. These songs range from the fairly traditional " Loola Loo," with Moore playing guitar and singing without a band, to most of the album which shows Moore and his band playing solid mainstream folky blues. Not that it's bad, but the album is much like his prior effort Slow Down in concept and execution.
The only true misstep is Moore's cover of the Elmore James classic "It Hurts Me Too." That song starts off with a very nice prelude in traditional delta folk-blues style, before launching into a drum machine background and non-traditional direction. Even that song, however, is not a total loss as it contains some of the best guitar playing (slide and picking) on an album where the playing is consistently good.
In sum, if you've never heard Keb' Mo', and are looking for something in the Delta tradition, buy his self titled first album. On the other hand, if you know and like Slow Down or Just Like You, this album will fit right in. A final note --- Keb' Mo' will release Big Wide Grin in 2001 on the Sony Wonder label. No word yet on when or what that album will contain.
--- Joseph Sherman
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