Written by David Shouse, posted by blog admin
The Oklahoma based power trio KALO doesn’t exist as merely a vehicle for the band’s powerful vocalist and guitarist Bat-Or Kalo; her band mates bassist Mack McKinney and drummer Mike Alexander are accomplished players who add a lot to KALO’s latest release Wild Change. The eleven song collection takes a wide, invigorating swing through an assortment of musical styles without ever surrendering the core sound created by three uniquely sympathetic musicians. It must be said that the undeniable vocal presence Kalo brings to her performance, often times varying in color and intensity, makes these songs even more memorable, but this review’s earlier point about her collaborators is only stressed to emphasize that this is an unit and you couldn’t switch out the rhythm section without affecting the musical chemistry is some sort of significant way.
The brisk trot they conjure up for the first number, “One Mississippi”, is steeped in blues and gets the album off to a rollicking start. Kalo really does have a voice ideally suited for this sort of material. She keeps up the musical pace without ever sounding like she’s straining for power or effect and the rhythm section seems somehow inspired by her presence in the song. It’s a zesty way to kick things off. “Isabel” is a true blues wailer with fiery lead guitar vamps courtesy of Kalo and a muscular rhythm section attack. Her vocal is powerful here, but in a much different way than we hear on the opener – she’s pushing past any lingering reserve and belting this one for all she’s worth, gutting out a wrenching vocal that’s nonetheless full of soul. “Fix” is one of the more commercially minded guitar rock songs on Wild Change thanks, in particular, to its memorable chorus and the rambunctious guitar lines running through the piece. The metaphor isn’t a new one, but Kalo’s vocal owns the subject in such a way you’ll forgive her for this light bit of unoriginality. It clearly means something to her and should leave a mark on you too. The raunch ‘n’ groove of the title track gives Kalo another hard-hitting platform from which she can unleash another wicked hot vocal. The variations in her delivery in this track, especially compared to earlier numbers, are noticeable and add some subtle strength to this song.
“Pay to Play” goes off in another direction entirely and whips up some tasty funk and gritty R&B for the band’s listeners. The presence of guitar is more diffuse in this tune than many of the earlier cuts but, when it plays a role, its presence in the mix is undeniable. Wild Change’s penultimate number “Bad Girl” brings listeners a final blast of blooze rock powered by a multitude of factors but, chief among them, Kalo’s defiant and hard-edged vocal. This is a brash and confident release with the talent to back it up and an expansive view of their own capabilities. KALO’s reputation continues to grow with each new release and Wild Change may prove to be that moment breaking things wide open for this quality outfit.