Rhythm & Views

Dan Auerbach

On his solo debut, Black Keys guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach shows himself well-versed, if a bit obsessed, with the tropes of classic blues. Trouble, heartbreak, mistakes, desire and "Street Walkin'" overflow on an album that feels deeply rooted in the heart of America.

With his guitar--including his ability to take it from loosely finger-picked to tremulously shrill--and the low expectations of stepping out from the rigors of a two-piece band, Auerbach is inspired and energized. The result is an album as thrilling as the Keys' masterpiece, Rubber Factory.

The album opens, curiously enough, with the lazy lily of the country-porch blues number "Trouble Weighs a Ton," followed by the Auerbach signature thousand-pound stomp of "I Want Some More." It seems a disingenuous trick, but it's an impressive start nonetheless.

Auerbach plays an assortment of instruments with surprising restraint, including drums and keyboards, but also allows backing musicians to fill out the corners, like Jessica Lea Mayfield and her gorgeous backing vocals on the clean, sparkling "When the Night Comes." Still, there are bumps. "Because I Should" is less than a minute of useless studio wankery, while the piercing blues of the title track dulls with repetition.

Recorded in Auerbach's Akron Analog studio, the album has a warm, rich sound that lends itself to tracks like the classic rock riffing "My Last Mistake"--among the best things Auerbach has ever recorded--and the gentle, dancing rhythms of closer "Goin' Home." The album bodes well for Auerbach's next venture into America's musical past.

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