After a five-year gap between his last studio albums, Keb’ Mo’ plans to follow up last year’s Grammy Award-nominated “The Reflection” in comparatively short order.
“I want to get right on it,” Mo’ (real name: Kevin Moore) tells Billboard.com. “I don’t want to wait another four, five years. I waited a little too long this time. I don’t want to do that again. I want to come right on out with something really cool.”
Mo’ says he’s “thinking about” his next album already, and after producing “The Reflection” himself he predicts that he’ll bring in someone else to handle the next one “and maybe go with something to bend me around a different way. I like Colin Linden (Bruce Cockburn, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, “A Tribute to Howlin’ Wolf”), who I’ve written some songs with. I really like his work, the way he puts stuff together. I think that would be a really cool thing — although I haven’t talked to him yet,” Mo’ adds with a laugh.
He also senses that he might return to something closer to his blues and folks roots than “The Reflection,” whose smoother, R&B feel is “the furthest out I’ve ever gone with my music.” Nevertheless, he’s not at all sorry about the stylistic left turn he took with the album. “Overall, I’m glad I did it,” Mo’ says. “I wanted to do a work that was honest but kind of uncharacteristic for me. I wanted to go out and find some things and stretch out. I found out a lot of things about me — and my audience. I found out how open-minded they are, and willing to go along with me on a journey.”
The Grammy nomination for Best Blues Album, meanwhile, was “really a surprise” that confirmed to Mo’ the bluesman tag is firmly and inextricably affixed to him. “That was probably my biggest lesson — once you’re in that club then you’re in that club and you don’t get to visit any other clubs,” he says with a laugh. “You can do whatever you want, but you’re still in your lane. It’s OK to do something else, but I’m still gonna be the blues. And I’m comfortable with that. Even when Herbie Hancock did ‘Rockit’ and got real funky, it was still jazz. B.B. King has done different things, but B.B. King is the blues. I can deal with that.”
Mo’ is currently touring to promote “The Reflection,” which features guest appearances by Vince Gill, India.Arie, Dave Koz, Mindi Abair, Marcus Miller and Camryn Manheim — the latter on the new single “We Don’t Need It.” Mo’ has also recorded guest vocals for upcoming albums by Spyro Gyro and Jerry Douglas, and he’ll appear on the 50th episode of Daryl Hall’s “Live From Daryl’s House,” which debuts on Jan. 15 and features five songs from “The Reflection” as well as duo versions of Hall’s “Cab Driver” and Hall & Oates’ “Everything Your Heart Desires.”
Mo’ is also moving forward with his own Yolabelle label, recording singles with other artists that he hopes will lead to full albums or compilations. “My company doesn’t have a big budget to work with,” Mo’ explains, “so we’re going to start out and do things that don’t break the bank, start small and build it. It’s kind of like the old days. No one got an album deal in the 60s; you got a single deal, and if your single sold, then you made an album. I think that’s a pretty good, solid model for these days, actually.”