Life’s challenges inspire the multi-instrumentalist’s latest set

“I’m a control freak,” Grammy-winning blues artist Keb’ Mo’ declares flatly. Indeed, the Nashville-based musician had a hand in every aspect of making his latest album, BLUESAmericana, including playing many of the instruments. But, he confesses, “When I couldn’t make something sound as good as I wanted it to sound—sometimes my touch wasn’t strong enough on the bass—I would call someone else in to play, because I wanted to get it right.”

Born Kevin Moore in Compton, Calif., the 62-year-old singer and multi-instrumentalist recorded the album at his home, some 20 years after his self-titled solo debut. Collaborators included co-producer Casey Wasner, drummer Keio Stroud, jazz band the California Feetwarmers, civil rights-era Freedom Rider Ernest “Rip” Patton Jr., and Moore’s wife, Robbie Brooks Moore. In fact, his relationship with Robbie shaped the album’s tone. “My albums always deal with life,” he says. “Just listen and you can tell what I’m going through.”

Several of the tracks formed while facing a “challenging time” in his marriage. “A challenging time in a committed marriage,” he stresses. “Not one that I was going to run from. In the past, when things got bad, I ran. This time I was like, ‘OK, I’m staying.’” He points to the uptempo album opener “The Worst Is Yet to Come,” about a

Murphy’s Law kind of day, as a song that helped him cope with the situation. “It’s a humorous way to showcase the fear I had, and to look at life’s problems and laugh at them—even if you lose your job, your wife took all the furniture, and your dog took a crap on the floor.”

The musical therapy worked—and his marriage not only survived but thrived. “Robbie’s my buddy and partner,” he says. “She’s the CEO of my record company. We operate by instinct and move together—and that’s the most important thing, that our minds are aligned.” She even sings on album closer “So Long Goodbye,” about two lovers going their separate ways.

In reality, Keb’ Mo’ moved from his lifelong home in California to Nashville to raise a family. “I didn’t think Nashville was a better place to pursue music; I was perfectly happy in Los Angeles. I moved to Nashville to live,” he says. “But it’s a great place to be a musician. It has its own personality, and you’re close to cities like Memphis, Muscle Shoals and Atlanta—it’s a musical vortex. I like it. I didn’t think I would. But the life I have is what feeds my music—my family, my friends and the world around me.”

–Katy Kroll


Subscribe to M Music and Musicians. $12 for one year >>



comment closed

Copyright © 2014 M Music & Musicians Magazine ·