Written by Daniel Boyer, posted by blog admin
KALO’s fourth release Wild Change is an eleven song release placing a white hot spotlight on the talents of singer/guitarist Bat-Or Kalo and her band mates drummer Mike Alexander and bass player Mack McKinney. The band has logged a significant amount of time on the road and the live experience has only enhanced their capabilities as a musical unit. That chemistry comes through quite clearly on each of the eleven songs included here. Kalo has drawn a lot of attention thanks to her unique vocal talents, but she’s much more than some big-voiced female blues singer. She excels just as much with the album’s muted, softer textures while also ideally complementing the band’s excursions into R&B and funk influences and the band always uncovers new and imaginative ways of tailoring what they do to her vocal skills. It makes Wild Change a visceral listening experience no matter what style they are attempting.
“One Mississippi” gets Wild Change off to a thrilling start. There’s ample snap in the way KALO attacks a swinging blues rock number and much of it can be attributed to Mike Alexander’s drumming. He locks into grooves very easily and the steadiness he provides the band’s performances makes everything else possible. There’s playfulness and grit alike in Kalo’s singing – she brings both aspects to bear on this song while still staying locked in with the song’s groove. “Isabel” takes the band’s blues rock inclinations in a much different direction. This is a blood and guts boisterous electric blues with the guitar set to kill and Kalo peeling layers of flesh off her tonsils with a lung-busting vocal. It’s never just raw power in what Kalo does. There’s finesse even in the most rugged moments she has on Wild Change. The title song has a similar effect. It’s a much more churning number, musically, but the different tempo and texture doesn’t affect Kalo’s ability to buckle down and deliver a vocal every bit as impassioned. “Only Love” is a slow, meditative blues that Kalo goes to the limit with. It’s one of the most memorable vocal outings on Wild Change. The band manages to avoid a lot of unconvincing clichés here and elsewhere – when they invoke the past, they do so credibly and with a completely modern sound.
“Pay to Play” is outright funk with a dash of R&B spiking the mix for good measure. Kalo’s guitar, thankfully, doesn’t completely recede into shadows and it puts a bluesy rock spin on the performance that’s going to be quite welcome with many. The album’s final cut “Calling All Dreamers” is an impressive acoustic closing to Wild Change and illustrates how adept the three member band is at shifting gears. The momentum they build over the course of these eleven songs is impressive and indicative of the gathering strength that seems to define each new release. This is a band working at or near the peak of their powers.