Let’s get this out of the way immediately – the guitar on this album is absolutely incredible. Hanni El Khatib’s Moonlight, released January 20th, is the third effort from the San Francisco native gaining traction for his guitar prowess and catchy tracks. While his previous two albums can be categorized mainly as southern blues rock, Moonlight adds another layer to Khatib’s repertoire not previously shown his first two efforts. This is most evident in the album’s final track “Two Brothers,” which almost completely abandons the heavy guitar influence that dominates most of the album for an LCD SoundSystem/TV on the Radio style electronic-disco undertone. Another example of this transition is the album’s ninth track “Dance Hall” which lightens up the guitar and adds a steady drum beat to accompany Khatib’s light bluesy vocals. This transition shows Khatib is ready to make the jump from indie darling to mainstream success.
Although he has added some new tricks to his style, his signature blues heavy style is not fully abandoned. The album’s second track “Melt Me” is the perfect example of this with hard hitting solos scattered throughout the song’s entirety to grab the listener’s attention immediately. If “Two Brothers” is evidence of the range Khatib can show, “Melt Me” and “Moonlight,” are examples of why he gained a following initially. An interesting comparison would be the sound change made from the Black Keys’ Attack and Release to Brothers, they were able to adapt their sound to widen their audience while not completely alienating their core listeners. Khatib does an interesting job with this similar dynamic and is beginning to map his blueprint to success.
Recommended Tracks: “Two Brothers,” “Melt Me,” “Mexico,” “Home.”