Dear John
(independent, 2013)

There's a story here: We go back to 2009, when an Israeli woman named Bat-Or Kalo, who had just finished her classical and jazz guitar studies and had made a jazz album in Tel-Aviv, decided to move to New York.

For three years, she played clubs and theaters around the city and then, restless again, figured that her best move would be to relocate to the blues-ridden American Delta. She did and within a couple of years, she had added a rhythm section and the musician Bat-Or Kalo became the leader of the band, Kalo.

What kind of band is it?

A very good one. Perhaps it is the fact that she was not raised in the blues tradition but came to it from a foreign perspective, arriving there because she loved it, but she has a unique way of inhabiting the blues idiom. She has made it her own by choice, by love and by study. Her guitar playing is solid and imaginative, as good as any of the blues-rock heroes currently getting all of the hype. Her writing is fresh and original for the genre and her ability to arrange a song and make it a personal statement is demonstrated by the only cover song on the disc: Madonna's "Like It Or Not." Madonna never sounded like this and she never will. Kalo totally reimagines the song, bringing out aspects in it that I've never heard before.

Her arrangements are fresh. She can shuffle with the best of them, establish a rhythm pattern that serves the song and never gets repetitive and, when necessary, can bring aboard folk instruments like banjos, fiddles and harmonicas.

If you haven't heard Kalo, you're going to want to correct that oversight right now.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

22 April 2017

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