Keb’ Mo’ is swimming upstream, issuing a new CD with a picture of peace sign prominently displayed on the cover. Not that the disc largely consists of ’60s protest songs, but it comes at a time when flag-waving patriotism is in vogue.
That Mo’ (real name Kevin Moore) would be moving beyond the country blues he has established should come as no surprise. He has previously made use of classic material, but not to this extent. And due to his relative youth compared to these songs, he’s a little loose with the time frame.
The album starts with Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth.” In short order, he layers on “People Got to be Free,” by the Rascals, “Get Together” from the Youngbloods, and Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changing.”
So the peace spread isn’t so monochromatic, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Happening Brother?” is included, as well as a song from Donnie Hathaway.
Elvis Costello’s “(What’s So Funny ’bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?” from the early ’80s, leads into the album’s finale – John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The Mo’ original “Talk” is an imaginary conversation with the President. It fits very well.
I’m in favor of peace and all that, and Moore’s restrained vocals bring a new life – and some modern-day relevance – to the songs.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Jan. ’05 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.