Yolabelle International/Ryko/Warner Music Group
With bluesy guitars, groovy Hammond organs, and Keb Mo’s rich, smoky voice, “The Reflection” is a warm, mellow ride from start to finish. Like a smooth-jazz station all its own, “The Reflection” is never rowdy or boastful. It just cruises along at an easy pace, like a Sunday morning when you’ve got nowhere to go, as Mo muses on identity and fidelity, love and faith.
The problem with those kind of Sundays though, is that you’re likely to nap your way through it. And while Mo spent two years writing and producing the album, much of it fades into the background.
There are a few highlights. Slap bass and thoughtful lyrics make “Inside Outside” a catchy track, and “All the Way” gets jazzed up with hints of gospel. India.Arie’s voice is a fine complement for Mo’s on “Crush on You,” a good date-night track. Vince Gill joins Mo on “My Baby’s Tellin’ Lies,” a breakup song highlighted by the country star’s vocals.
Mo is a singer, songwriter and guitarist, and he shines in all three. On “The Reflection,” his voice is strong, his lyrics clever and the guitar riffs are fat, but somehow they add up to an album that lacks spark.
Keb Mo typically writes his own words and music, but on this album, he takes on the Eagles classic “One of These Nights.” The song is slower and more soulful in Mo’s hands, anchored by pianos and a chorus of women’s voices.