Keb Mo – The Reflection

January 01, 1970



Five years in the making and fortified with contributions
from several big name guests (India.Arie, Vince Gill, Dave Koz and Marcus
Miller among them), The Reflection could be considered Grammy Award-winner Keb Mo’s tour-de-force and his most
deliberate bid yet to win wider appeal. Birthed in the Blues and admittedly
under the influence of Robert Johnson in particular, Mo’s early M.O. paralleled
that of Taj Mahal, another iconoclastic innovator whose diverse, ethnocentric
sound served as a springboard for exploring other idioms.


Still, some may be surprised at the length to which Mo’s
gone in order to make it in the mainstream. The album is awash in a
radio-friendly, smooth jazz sound, complete with cooing choruses, percolating
grooves, sprightly guitars, and predominant keyboards. The mellow ballad “Crush
on You,” the easy, effortless “The Whole Enchilada” and a sanitized version of
the Eagles’ “One of These Nights” (a song well suited to conversion to an MOR
standard if ever there was one) are delivered with a croon and caress, as well
as a soulful sway that brings to mind George Benson, Bonnie Raitt or Carlos
Santana in their later incarnations. That means plenty of blunted edges, all
smoothed over, homogenized and polished to a radiant sheen. Ultimately it’s
left to “We Don’t Need It,” a downcast ballad about a family pulling together
despite economic duress, to provide the most affecting moments in a set that’s
sweet, slick and more pleasant than pervasive.


Don’t Need It,” “The Whole Enchilada,” “Crush on You” LEE ZIMMERMAN

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