Living Blues - pp.46-8
"With PEACE...BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND, a collection of songs about peace and social justice, Keb' Mo' puts his music where his politics are....Keb's plea for peace is hard to miss."
What began as a few protest songs recorded by Keb' Mo' in response to the war in Iraq turned into 2004's PEACE?BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND, a 10-pack of tunes about hope and freedom. Amazingly completing this project in a month's time, Keb' Mo' managed to rustle up an interesting array of (mostly) covers.
With his rich vocals and laid-back phrasing, the Los Angeles native shines on a bubbly reading of Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Free," takes a crackling walk through McFadden and Whitehead's "Wake Up Everybody," and strips Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" down to an acoustic piano duet. Unusual arrangements abound, whether it's the vocals fed through an echo chamber that defines Mo's version of Marvin Gaye's "What's Happening Brother" or the country-blues romp through Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" that's rendered with a healthy smattering of mandolin and fiddle. The one original here is "Talk," an inquisition to the President of the United States, goosed along by the guitarist's distinctive dobro work. If music can help change the world, then PEACE is a good start.