Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Friday, September 15, 2017

KALO - Wild Change (2017)

Written by Jason Hillenburg, posted by blog admin

The band KALO, their moniker adopted from lead singer/songwriter and guitarist Bat-Or Kalo, are a three piece with the skills to revitalize a genre. More often than not, these days, the most successful blues acts are those revolving around a singular personality, ala Joe Bonamassa, rather than a true band. KALO combines the best of both worlds – it provides a forum for Bat-Or Kalo to reveal the full and thrilling breadth of her talents while placing her in the context of an electrifying power trio who have obvious chemistry to burn. KALO’s third album, Wild Change, is an eleven song collection that clearly illustrates why this Israeli born guitarist and singer has virtually revitalized the form on the back of her considerable talents. There hasn’t been a female vocalist in many years who has so overtly embraced traditional blues with such stunning results.

The hard-charging romp “One Mississippi” has some pared back, white-knuckled guitar and relentless percussion that keeps the tune hopping from the first. The hand claps added to the song are a nice retro touch that you don’t often hear anymore. Kalo’s singing has a lot of variation – she isn’t one of these heavy handed modern blues interpreters who thinks everything has to be delivered as a full on wail. We get out first dose of rock ‘n’ blooze on the track “Isabel” and Kalo unleashes a focused, impassioned vocal that complements the grinding musical arrangement. It really hits a combustible point with the chorus and the raucous spirit informing the tune from the first never backs off from the first. Mike Alexander’s drumming is particularly effective on the song “Fix” and he helps Kalo and bassist Mack McKinney make the most of the song’s natural peaks. The chorus on this one is hard hitting and ranks among the album’s best.

The title cut brings us back to the rock ‘n’ blooze churn of the earlier “Isabel”, but it’s less cluttered and more reliant on clear melodic ideas. The high points in the song practically drips with passion and Kalo, risking cliché, sings like someone with her back against the wall and dependant on getting this song over with listeners. KALO veers off into an utterly different direction on the funk and R&B influence “Pay to Play”, but she sounds just as home with this sort of brass infused and bass heavy material. This is a deliciously commercial tune that doesn’t sacrifice any of its credibility to establish its mainstream appeal. Wild Change concludes with “Calling All Dreamers” forsakes the bluesy pyrotechnics and funk influences in favor of straight forward acoustic singer/songwriter sort of material. Kalo shows herself quite adept at modulating her voice accordingly and delivers, arguably, her most soulful performance on the release. Wild Change is a mightily impressive addition to Kalo’s growing discography and likely rates as her greatest moment yet.

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