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

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.