Featured in Michael Fremer's Heavy Rotation in the May 2009 Issue of Stereophile!
On his solo debut, Black Keys singer and guitarist Dan Auerbach takes a simple approach: "I just wanted to do the things I loved." For Auerbach, that means combining elements of bluegrass a la the Stanley Brothers, mournful country balladry, Memphis-style R&B, fuzzed-out psychedelic rock and low-down blues on this collection of 14 original tunes, which Auerbach self-produced and recorded with friends an family at his newly built studio, Akron Analog. "It's all just soul music," he says, and Keep It Hid is soulful indeed. As a songwriter, Auerbach likes to prowl the dark end of the street: his gritty, impassioned vocals lend dramatic heft to these tales of romantic betrayal and suspicious minds. For this Akron, Ohio native, his state has always been blue.
Auerbach, like a more roots-oriented version of Tom Waits, mixes black humor with genuine poignancy in his lyrics and concocts some artfully oddball arrangements. He likes to crank it up on tracks like "I Want Some More" and the Bo Diddley beat-driven "Street Walkin'". But he isn't afraid to keep things gentler, more intimate on songs like the aching, acoustic-blues opener, "Trouble Weighs a Ton", and the unabashedly sweet "When the Night Comes", a duet with protégé Jessica Lea Mayfield, possessed of a voice as full of character as Auerbach's own. "My Last Mistake", despite its morose words, has the happy pop swing of a classic Sir Douglas Quintet track, with just the rollicking organ missing.
The Black Keys are revered for their "two-man stomp", as Auerbach calls it. On his solo disc, though, Auerbach goes in a more expansive direction working with a full band and tackling a wide variety of instruments himself. With engineer Mark Neill, he employed analog gear to record and mix. In fact, Whispered Words," which Auerbach co-wrote with his dad, was cut in mono. Vintage effects, however, are a means, not an end, to helping Auerbach get down on tape the remarkable sounds mixing it up in his head 24/7.
Includes Bonus CD of complete album
Gatefold jacket with single disk CD in slipcase inserted in pocket
Cut Direct-to-Copper at Abbey Road
Plated and Pressed at Pallas in Diepolz, Germany
1. Trouble Weighs a Ton
2. I Want Some More
3. Heartbroken, In Disrepair
4. Because I Should
5. Whispered Words (Pretty Lies)
6. Real Desire
7. When the Night Comes
8. Mean Monsoon
9. The Prowl
10. Keep It Hid
11. My Last Mistake
12. When I Left the Room
13. Street Walkin'
14. Goin' Home