Dan Auerbach- Keep It Hid
Call me a skeptic, but the minute I hear a member of a beloved band is taking his/her music solo, I get that nauseous pit in my stomach, the kind you get on the last day of vacation or when you finish a good book or when you break up with somebody. It feels like the end of something great, something you may never get back. I admit that this same skeptic m plagued me when I purchased Dan Auerbach’s first solo album Keep It Hid back in February. I just knew it was going to suck and ruin The Black Keys forever… but sound the alarms and alert the presses folks, because I was wrong. Dead wrong. This album turned out to be not only my favorite album of the year (thus far), but arguably some of Auerbach’s best work to date.
Over the past few years, I have grown to really love the gritty, raw sound of The Black Keys. They are one of a handful of bands that have restored my faith in the music of this generation. Maybe it is the unpolished honesty of the sound or the 1960s rock vibe I find so refreshing in an overly synthesized world. But whatever the case, it must be said that The Black Keys’ sound is what it is due to the collaboration and mutual artistry of guitarist/singer, Dan Auerbach and drummer, Patrick Carney. So before exploring Auerbach’s solo effort, I would advise that you not dive in expecting an exact replica of Auerbach’s work with the Keys. Instead look for a strong similarity to the rough, bluesy sound but with melancholy and truth all its own.
Although Auerbach enlisted the help of friends and family, he had full control over the creative direction of the album by not only penning the album, but playing guitar, drums, percussion and keyboards throughout. With track titles like “Trouble Ways A Ton”, “Heartbroken, In Disrepair” and “My Last Mistake”, it’s pretty clear what Auerbach’s emotional state was while making this album. But I think it is that vulnerability in both his ballads and up tempo tracks that make Keep it Hid so unique, because while he belts out his tales of heartbreak and woe, he never asks the listener to partake in his misery. Instead, we find ourselves compelled to listen because everything he sings feels real and true.
I will admit that Auerbach may have an unfair advantage in this Best of 2009 race due to the shear amount of time I have dedicated to the album. For months I have kept this album in constant rotation, and to this day, I remain in awe at the subtleties and painstaking nuisances within each song that make the album feel new and fresh with each listen.
When asked about his experience with making this record, Auerbach said, “I didn’t want to make a record of just songs I liked, thrown together. I wanted it to work from start to finish. The kind of classic record where you put on headphones and listen to it from start to finish and takes you somewhere else – that the was the goal.” It was a lofty goal, but one that paid off big time in the end.
Oh, and here’s a very important side note: Both Auerbach and Patrick Carney insist that the Black Keys have not broken up. Whew…
Listen: Mean Monsoon
Listen: My Last Mistake