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KALO - Wild Change (2017)



                     
Written by Frank McClure, posted by blog admin

KALO, led by singer/guitarist extraordinaire Bat-Or Kalo, is based out of Oklahoma and has earned a reputation in recent years as one of the most individual roots based music acts working today. They’ve advanced deep into numerous music competitions as well as headlining or being featured on a number of festival bills. This is a band that makes long-standing forms like blues, R&B, and funk sound like they are the first band to tackle it thanks to the rocking, two-fisted passionate approach they take to the music. There’s a wonderfully visceral live quality to the performance as well – it sounds like they recorded this album with all the musicians in the room and the combustible interplay between the three piece lights up each of the eleven songs on the latest release Wild Change. This is their fourth release overall and sees the band reaching a fever pitch with their musical talents.  

It certainly comes out of the gates swinging. “One Mississippi” is a pleasant listen, but a hard hitting tune nonetheless. Mike Alexander’s drumming attack has a strong edge while still swinging wide and steadily while Kalo’s sinewy guitar lines crackle with tension from the outset. The song is, very much so, in a well worn blues tradition, but KALO makes it sound fresh thanks to Kalo’s vocal and the forcefulness of the band’s instrumental attack. “Isabel” comes from the same bluesy school but it has a much heavier hand than the opener and Kalo’s guitar sounds much more massive than before. Her capacity for lung busting vocals knows no apparent limit. “Upside Down”, however, affords her chance to lighten her approach some The horns included in this track give it added attitude and Kalo’s singing seems to draw considerable inspiration from their presence in the song. “Fix” is one of the more commercially minded songs on the album thanks to its easy to grasp metaphor, the wideness of its application, and the impact of a big and memorable chorus. Kalo ramps it up especially during those moments. It’s one of the most rousing tracks, ultimately, included on Wild Change.

The title song is equally punchy thanks to its unstoppable guitar riff and the muscular, yet infinitely musical, rhythm section. The wicked snarl on Kalo’s guitar is a signature sound we keep hearing again and again on Wild Change and it finds it near perfect expression on this cut. Kalo’s singing is particularly impassioned. “Pay to Play” steps away from the blues in a memorable way with a funk infused track that gives the band’s rock chops an added spike of energy. “Calling All Dreamers” closes Wild Change with an sensitively rendered acoustic track that Kalo’s voice gets inside of quite nicely. The lyrics are among the finest on the album and we are afforded a chance to really appreciate for a final time their talents in that area thanks to the low key setting. KALO’s third studio album shows that the band is still hungry, still restless, and looking to improve with each new live performance and recording. This is one step closer, if nothing else, to fully realizing their potential.

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