When a lead singer of a band steps out to release a solo album, it generally signals the inevitable beginning of the end for the band. My initial reaction to the news that Dan Auerbach was releasing a solo effort was that his noisy, bluesy twosome The Black Keys might be on indefinite hiatus. This may or may not be true, but upon hearing said album, I don’t think it is. In a way, the solo album reaffirms how good both members actually are.
It’s unfair to say that The Black Keys are limited in scope by Carney, but in a way, his driving, forceful drum work keeps the two of them focused. His style doesn’t lend itself to ballads or alt-country; even the slower songs by The Black Keys (think “The Flame”) are still punctuated by his solid drumming.
On Keep It Hid, conversely, Auerbach is allowed to play around more with pedals, allowed to dabble in acoustic guitars, allowed to go off on tangents if he so chooses, and he takes advantage of the opportunity. Not confined to anything except the over-arching blues genre, he plays it slowly, speeds it up, makes it southern, makes it dirty, gives it a swagger – infusing it all with his signature vocals. In all honesty, I cannot imagine a scenario where Keep It Hid would not end up on my best of the year list, unless Mr. Auerbach personally wronged me somehow, and even then it might still make it.
Here’s my favorite track from the album, as well as an older one from The Black Keys’ Magic Potion album. I think it’s just me, but right at the start of “Whispered Words,” I always feel like he’s going to break into Modest Mouse’s “The World At Large.” I don’t know why, because they don’t really sound alike. Stream the rest of the album on his MySpace Page.
Dan Auerbach – Whispered Words (Pretty Lies) (mp3) from Keep It Hid
Dan Auerbach on Tour:
2/28: Washington D.C. – 9:30 Club
3/1: Boston, MA – Paradise
3/2: Brooklyn, NY- Music Hall of Williamsburg
3/3: New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
3/5: Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom
3/6: Chicago, IL – Metro
3/7: Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
3/10: Seattle, WA – Showbox
3/11: Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
3/13: San Francsco, CA – Bimbo’s
3/14: Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre