Moonlight, Mistletoe & You
Keb’ Mo’ is an Americana and roots music stylist with fourteen Blues Music Awards and four Grammy Awards. Released on the heels of his latest recording, 2019’s “Oklahoma”, this is his first Holiday album, a melting pot of originals and classic covers, just in time for Christmas. The album is produced by Keb’ Mo’ and recorded by Zach Allen at the Stu Stu Studios in Franklin, Tennessee.
Keb’ states “After 25 years of performing without releasing a Christmas album, I felt now was as good a time as any to spread some love and compassion, there’s something about Christmas time that makes everyone’s hearts a little lighter and I wanted to contribute to the movement of spreading a little joy. I feel like I was able to accomplish that through the making of “Moonlight, Mistletoe & You”.
Five new songs are co-written by Keb’. The centerpiece of the recording is the title track “Moonlight, Mistletoe & You” written with Adam Ollendorff. The fabulous production includes Keb, acoustic guitar and vocal; Gerald Albright, saxophone; Phil Madeira, keyboards; David Rodgers, piano; Akil Thompson, electric guitar; Joe Reed, bass; and Chester Thompson, drums. A nine-piece string section led by David Davidson includes six violins, two violas and a cello. The string arrangement is by Lendell Black.
“Better Everyday” co-written with Nashville’s Gary Nicholson features a similar ensemble; gone is Albright and Rodgers, the latter replaced by pianist Michael B. Hicks who also becomes a background vocalist. Hicks is joined by three additional background vocalists, and a three-piece horn section of Nashville’s finest including saxophonist Tyler Summers, trumpeter Vinnie Ciesielski and trombonist Roy Agee.
“When The Children Sing” is from Keb’ and singer-songwriter-actor Mac Davis. It features Keb on acoustic guitar, and a vocal arrangement from Hicks sung by The Children of NIA House Montessori School and Carter Moore.
“Christmas is Annoying” is a humorous tune written with Elaine Dempsey and featuring the stripped down trio of Keb, guitar and vocals; Scott Mulvahill, upright bass; and Neil Tulano, drums.
The traditional styled “One More Year With You” composed with Beth Nielson Chapman features vocalist Keb, pianist Rodgers, Shelly Berg, grand piano; Christian McBride, upright bass; Steve Jordan, drums; Neil Tufano, kick drum; Marcus Finnie, percussion; and seven additional horn players.
The originals are mixed with specially selected and re-imagined covers. The opening track is Charles Brown’s “Please Come Home For Christmas” first recorded in 1960. “Santa Claus, Santa Claus” was written by Teddy Edwards and waxed by Louis Jordan in 1968. “Merry, Merry Christmas”, written and performed by Koko Taylor, appeared on a 1992 Alligator Records Christmas Collection. “Santa Claus Blues” from Charley Jordan was recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1944. “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm” written by Irving Berlin has been recorded by Mildred Bailey, and Billie Holiday; Keb shares the duet with Melissa Manchester. The production on these covers is equally outstanding.
This new Christmas album was a labor of love. This stocking stuffer should be enjoyed for many years to come.