Dan Auerbach, "Keep It Hid" (Nonesuch)
Some musicians just get it. Dan Auerbach is one of those.
The singer/guitarist for The Black Keys is putting out his first solo album and it's every bit as brainy, engaging and powerful as his work with Pat Carney in the Akron, Ohio.-based duo.
"Keep It Hid" is Auerbach stepping out, stretching a bit. Much of the material was written at the same time as the Keys' last album, the Danger Mouse-produced "Attack and Release," and it clearly shares the same DNA. The sound is much more diverse than the band's early, effervescent blues-rock work, and shows an understanding of what really makes rock roll.
There's a little bit of country, a little bit of rock 'n' roll, some soul and psychedelia, and plenty of trouble as Auerbach chases his fancy, even putting his father Charles' lyrics to wax in "Whispered Words (Pretty Lies)."
The album, recorded at Auerbach's Akron studio, is full of tasty sounds.
There's the plaintiff guitar line and earnest warble in Auerbach's voice on the '50s-style ballad "Whispered Words," the dreamy synth of "When The Night Comes," the heavy bottom on "The Prowl" that will challenge cheap speakers and the sinister sitar sound of the banjo on "When I Left The Room" would fit right in on a David Lynch soundtrack.
The material is often dark, perfect for Auerbach's preternatural voice, but he shows some range with the occasional ballad or plaintiff cry of the heartbroken soul man.
He's positively Waitsian on the title track: "Lock the door and close the blinds," he sings over a jittery guitar line, "they're coming for me girl and I ain't got time/If they ask you darlin', oh god, what I did/baby, you gotta keep it hid."
The only thing missing here is that spark that Auerbach and Carney have when they're playing together in the Keys, two young guys so talented and in tune with each other, they're like a chemical reaction. But this is a great way to kill time till they drop the needle on the next Keys album.
CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: The malevolent reverb, fuzzy bass and classic Auerbach hard-luck storyline make "Heartbroken, In Disrepair" a psychedelic delight. One of many standouts.