His comfort with soul music is especially apparent in two cases. “The cover here of Gaye’s What’s Happening Brother works because Mo’ stays close to the original template, and given that Gaye pretty much invented the jazzy soul approach on his classic What’s Going On album (an album that hardly needs redefinition to be vital in a contemporary setting), this is a wise choice. Delivering a perfectly nuanced vocal on Donny Hathaway’s Someday We’ll All Be Free, Mo’ brings out the hard-earned wisdom and hope inherent in the song's lyrics, as well as preserving its natural elegance.” SL
One of the more rock-oriented tunes “that does work…is the opening track, a spunky, light soul rendition of Stephen Stills’ For What It’s Worth,” SL originally recorded by Stills’ group Buffalo Springfield. “The song seems to have gained wisdom and import as the years have passed, and in the hands of Keb’ Mo’ it becomes both universal and danceable.” SL
“Less successful” SL is the “jaunty banjo- and fiddle-flecked version of the Nick Lowe-penned What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love and Understanding (popularized by Elvis Costello).” HH It “uses a questionable rearrangement to convey the song’s message.” HH The “swampy string band version…makes the song feel somehow less urgent.” SL
“There is one Keb' Mo' original on the album, Talk, which takes as its premise a one-on-one talk with the President of the United States, a notion that will seem like science fiction for most listeners.” SL
“Obviously Mo’ isn’t trying to top the Hit Parade with anything here, and his effort to bring these important songs into a new light is laudable. Peace...Back by Popular Demand is not a major album,” SL but it “is immediately apparent…how well these songs translate forward into the current political milieu.” SL This collection has “some major things to say, or re-say, in this case, and it serves as a reminder that every era could use (and deserves) some peace.” SL It makes for “a pleasant, subtle, and always professionally performed detour that’s as comfy as a warm cup of hot chocolate on a chilly day.” HH
Last updated September 15, 2009.