Album of the Week: The Black Keys, 'Delta Kream'

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The Black Keys, 'Delta Kream'
The Black Keys, 'Delta Kream' (Nonesuch Records)
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The Black Keys sing the blues on their new record Delta Kream, with a down and dirty set paying tribute to early heroes like Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside, who originally performed most of the songs on the album. Loose and groovy, turning away from the more commercial sounds of recent releases, this time out The Keys' Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney were augmented by Kenny Brown and Eric Deaton, long-time members of Burnside and Kimbrough's bands.

The album was cut in two afternoons at Dan's Easy Eye Studios at the end of the Black Keys touring for their 2019 album Let's Rock, with little planning and no advance rehearsals. The looseness of the sessions are a strength in the hands of these great rockers. They even revisit "Do the Romp," a Kimbrough song they did on The Big Come Up, The Black Keys' debut album. Still gritty but less raw, it's a way to compare the evolution of The Black Keys from 2002 to 2021.

You hear the players chatting between takes, which verge from straight up blues like "Crawling Kingsnake," to the more countrified boogie of "Poor Boy a Long Way From Home," to a hauntingly beautiful "Going Down South," where Auerbach channels the early Peter Greene led Fleetwood Mac. The entire album builds on The Keys' love of the northern Mississippi blues, the sound that inspired them long before they left Akron for Nashville. But this time out the blues are played with the accumulated wisdom and skill of 20 years of filling bigger and bigger venues. In that sense the record resembles The Rolling Stones' 2016 album, Blue & Lonesome, where the septuagenarian rockers also took it back to their blues beginnings. Like with the Stones' latest, there's no need to worry or overthink it - if they're not as the performers, we certainly can as listeners.

It's cool when bands this big turn their back on forging a hit, and instead let loose and go into their passions, and that's what makes Delta Kream a sweet addition to The Black Keys' story.

External Link

The Black Keys - official website

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  • The Black Keys and Jim McGuinn at Easy Eye Sound Studios
    The Current's Jim McGuinn (center) with The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney at Easy Eye Sound Studios in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday, May 31, 2019. (courtesy Jim McGuinn)

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