The Black Keys' 'Delta Kream' Will Satisfy Blues Purists and Anyone Shopping for a Father's Day Present
Published May 21, 2021Just in time for Father's Day, here's the Black Keys covering 11 Mississippi hill country blues songs. With lengthy guitar solos, whirling organs and an unadorned blues sound, Delta Kream is retro rock in its purest form. Everyone has an uncle or two for whom this will be the only new album they listen to in 2021.
Which isn't a bad thing, mind you — people who hate cursive singing and trap hi-hats need albums too, and Delta Kream delivers the meaty grooves and droning one-chord vamps associated with Mississippi hill country blues. It takes the duo of singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney back to their bloozy origins — except, unlike the grimy garage sound of early albums like 2002's The Big Come Up and 2003's Thickfreakness, they now play like seasoned pros, and they've expanded their lineup here to include seasoned bluesmen Kenny Brown and Eric Deaton.
Not that Delta Kream's rich sound is overcooked. The Black Keys apparently planned the recording session only a few days in advance and recorded the whole 11-song collection in just 10 hours. You hear the spontaneity in the little moments: the random drum fills that begin six-minute opener "Crawling Kingsnake," the scratchy guitar noodling that leads off the toe-tapping swagger of "Sad Days, Lonely Nights," or the voice that asks "Fade out on that?" after the bongo-bopping guitar outro of "Louise" (which doesn't fade out).
This is the sound of a veteran band getting back to their roots — which, of course, is the whole appeal of them recording an album of blues covers two decades into their career. There aren't any crossover hits like "Lonely Boy" or "Howlin' for You," and it's not remotely attempting to push the sound of blues forward. They're not trying to rock. The Black Keys don't seem to be making any statement whatsoever, except for maybe: we like the blues, so here are some sweet jams to zone out to. (Nonesuch)