10 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Keb' Mo’ has never been a strict constructionist about the blues. If anything, the idea that he’s a blues singer at all seems more vestigial with every album, the kind of tag that got hung early and will probably stick no matter what he does. Like a lot of his 2000s and 2010s work, the Grammy-winning Oklahoma constructs a Venn diagram covering a range of vernacular American stuff—folk, soul, featherlight adult pop, whatever—without establishing an allegiance to any of them. “Oklahoma” is, title aside, mostly Tejano; “Don’t Throw It Away” is mostly New Orleans; “The Way I” could just as well go to a contemporary soul or country singer looking for a place to park their tears. Not that an artist like Keb’ Mo’ shows his stylistic seams—as with most of his albums, the artistry of Oklahoma lies in part in how much he manages to throw into the pot while keeping the end result utterly smooth. Preservationist? He’s a synthesizer.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Keb' Mo’ has never been a strict constructionist about the blues. If anything, the idea that he’s a blues singer at all seems more vestigial with every album, the kind of tag that got hung early and will probably stick no matter what he does. Like a lot of his 2000s and 2010s work, the Grammy-winning Oklahoma constructs a Venn diagram covering a range of vernacular American stuff—folk, soul, featherlight adult pop, whatever—without establishing an allegiance to any of them. “Oklahoma” is, title aside, mostly Tejano; “Don’t Throw It Away” is mostly New Orleans; “The Way I” could just as well go to a contemporary soul or country singer looking for a place to park their tears. Not that an artist like Keb’ Mo’ shows his stylistic seams—as with most of his albums, the artistry of Oklahoma lies in part in how much he manages to throw into the pot while keeping the end result utterly smooth. Preservationist? He’s a synthesizer.

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