Picks and Pans Review: Keb' Mo'
Memo from the Dept. of Pleasant Surprises: This simple and spare debut flows like a fresh spring through the sludge of today's pop-rock-rap soundalikes. Keb' Mo' (Black English for Kevin Moore) plays old-fashioned acoustic blues and has the sort of rich, rough-hewn baritone that was once a pop staple (Otis Redding, David Ruffin) but is now rarer than castrati. Though he mostly writes 12-bar blues, Mister Mo' has something up his songwriter's sleeve: a gift for melodic folk-pop ballads, especially the forlorn "Anybody Seen My Girl." His taste in others' tunes is equally sharp. He revives two classics by '30s blues genius Robert Johnson. (OKeh/Epic)
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