THE BLACK KEYS AND THE DELTA KREAM
Album: Delta Kream
Artist: The Black Keys Producer: Dan Auerbach; Patrick Carney
Label: Easy Eye Sound; Nonesuch
Recorded: December 2019
Released: May 2021
Genre: Blues Rock
The studio chatter that welcomes the listeners to the new album is all that is needed for what follows. An hour of groovy, sultry and heavy blues rock and that signature Dan Auerbach-Patrick Carney swagger. The album is surely one of the most heavy-handed tribute to the bigwigs of her blues roots. A foundation that is so solid and evidenced in all of their ten albums, a prolific band that has seldom strayed from the course of the genre.
The Black Keys released their tenth album "Delta Kream" and in typical fashion stays true to their sound and in fact doubts down on their intent to stay heavily blues-driven than ever before. The album in many ways is a tribute to the forefathers of blues, opening with the John Lee Hooker classic "Crawling Kingsnake". This is never going to slip from your head for a long time. the smooth transition to "Louis" makes for a consistency that is evident throughout the album. In what is essentially a tribute to the great blues icons, the album is a collection of covers that more or less adds a dimension to the great taste and inspiration that is evidenced in most of their music.
Songs like "Poor Boy Long Way From Home, "Going South" and "Do the Romp" packs a punch that is surely made to make you groove with every riff. Auerbach and Carney have surely outdone their share of the blues overload that is never too tiring. In an era of overly produced and perfection oriented style of music, this album has a rawness and grittiness of the bygone era that is left behind. The collaboration with legendary musicians like Kenny Brown and Eric Deaton, two longtime sidemen to blues legends Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside, makes for an alethic experience that enriches the palette owing to their largely personal experience within the blues circuit. The feel and rawness of the album are visceral and drags you to the nitty-gritty of the original blues which somehow never seems to lose its charm. There is a wildness to the album that is brutish yet in its most graceful incarnation. The studio chatter is left behind to give the music the impulsiveness from which it came to be when Auerbach and Carney found themselves casually jamming with Brown and Deaton in Auerbach's Nashville studio.
The album in many ways is a throwback to the older catalogues of The Black Keys which are steeped in the true blues influence. In comparison to the previous album, Delta Kream surely lacks vibrancy and reckless energy. I doubt that they even really intended to give that touch to this album. In many ways, it seems to simply be a passion project. A mission in revisiting the blues musicians of yore who influenced the Black Keys and revitalising their relevance and giving them their due recognition. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are audiophiles of the highest order, whose knowledge in blues music is immense and their eclectic influences are evidenced in all of their albums. The particular influence of Junior Kimbrough is seen in multiple records and more pronounced here.
One might complain the album to be repetitive and dragging since it does not deviate from similar tonal changes. But that is barely a complaint if any. The idea is in the feel of the tune and the grooviness of the bass and the atmosphere that Carney creates behind the kit. The album ends with a six-minute saga in "Come On and Go With Me", a melodic rollercoaster that Dan Auerbach makes so easy to the eye. The album is like a stiff drink of the oldest whiskey in a dingy dive bar where the vintage paraphernalia speaks to you amid the fog of cigarette smoke. The long-winded conversation of the age-old lore of the Mississippi Delta told most dangerously, through the blues. This album is a flask full of memories hanging on to you as you journey through time. Delta Kream is one for the ages, the Black Keys are still pushing the envelope and we are witness.