TajMo Album of Blues Collaboration Taj Mahal and Keb Mo
Rooted in Delta tradition the first collaboration between bluesmen of different generations have delivered eleven tracks on TajMo that will surprise and entertain to a point. “We wanted to do a real good record together, but we didn’t want to do the record that everyone expected us to do,” blues legend Taj Mahal says of TajMo, his historic collaboration with fellow true believer Keb’ Mo’. The album is upbeat, the tracks have a happy vibe rather than hand ringing despair, yet with their two different personalities and vocal attributes there is nothing profound no depth of a great story telling number.
Let’s start off with the surprises. As ever sometimes a surprise can be a disappointment, and for me The Who’s Squeeze Box was a quirky inclusion that had no purpose on the album. Yes, the zydeco arrangement has syncopated flow that moves along and the accordion from Jeff Taylor picks up the mood; the childish lyrics mean that however inspired the re-arrangement nothing will uplift this number. Closing out the album with a John Mayer cover, Waiting For The World To Change, with backing vocals from Bonnie Raitt I know this because it was in the press release her voice just doesn’t add to a closing number that misses the mark.
Now back to the rest of the album full of Delta Blues as Taj & Mo collaborate as they have in the past on stage and how the album over two years in the making has shaped up. Opening with Don’t Leave Me Here, a strong track replete with horns and the flow if the Mississippi inspiring the music when stuck in Chicago. The opening is easy on the ear with a promise that never really flies. The percussive happy pop on one of the originals on the album means that it is full of hope grounded in fluffy lyrics there will be no need for blues… be love peace etc. All Around The World. The clarion call of the horns add a much-needed sharpness of tone on a number that leads nowhere. Then one of the stand out tracks on the album Om Sweet Om; the beat swells and rolls through the track augmented with Lizz Wright’s vocals that soothe the soul. It is the guitar work from Joe Walsh and the keys that liven up Shake Me in Your Arms combined with the two vocal tones of Taj & Mo playing of each other with harmonization that is full of emotion, a track in which that lacks that missing zing absent form so much of an album. The inclusion of Diving Duck Blues is no surprises as Taj Mahal revisits the Sleepy Joe Estes number he will be forever associated with after the release of his second album.
Soul, the penultimate track is a favourite. The African warmth in the rhythm adds some spice to the blues and a raw energy. Yes, the lyrics are a geography lesson as we move from city to town across the globe. The vibe is bright uplifting and there are layers of soul power. This feels like a beginning of a collaboration with some voodoo magic. The drumming inspired deep with the heat of Africa infused with the Blues of the Delta the music connects. Where was this bright freedom expression in the rest of the album?
They said they wanted to put a real good record together; it is real good but just a little bit flat at times lacking that spark that will ignite a Delta blues inspired album into something that is stupendous.
Taj Mahal & Keb’Mo‘ – TajMo – Concord Records
EIGHTdoodle paws out of TEN ….
- Don’t Leave Me Here
- She Know How To Rock
- All Around The World
- Om Sweet Om
- Shake Me In Your Arms
- That’s Who I Am
- Diving Duck Blues
- Squeeze Box
- Ain’t Nobody Talking
- Waiting On The World To Change