Something Else! sneak peek: Keb Mo, “The Old Me Better” from BluesAmericana (2014)

If you need any indication of how comfortable bluesman Keb Mo is, two decades after his well-regarded debut, look no further than the advance track from his forthcoming album BluesAmericana.

“The Old Me Better” ripples with a New Orleans street band’s joyous flair, even as the lyric speaks with a winking honesty about growing up, growing closer to your loved ones, and growing into your own skin. Co-writing with John Lewis Parker (Chicago, Pointer Sisters, Dolly Parton), Keb Mo has perhaps never sounded happier, or more confident, in himself and his craft.

That said, don’t expect a whole album of this. Keb Mo has already said that the second-line feel of “The Old Me Better” doesn’t reflect the bluesier focus of the 10-track BluesAmericana, his first album since 2011′s sometimes-too-pillowy The Reflection. The Los Angeles-based Dixieland band called California Feetwarmers, Keb Mo’s collaborators on “The Old Me Better,” make a big splash, but only a single one.

Instead, what this track underscores is a veteran roots musician’s willingness to keep pushing at the boundaries of his sound — and, maybe best of all, to have a damned good time along the way. BluesAmericana is due April 22, 2014 via Kind of Blue Music.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has also explored music for publications like USA Today, Gannett News Service, All About Jazz and Popdose for nearly 30 years. Honored as newspaper columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section that was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in 2006. Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.