Being featured in or on just under a dozen bands in the past year wasn’t what Dan Auerbach, one-half of the Blues-Roots Rockers Black Keys, had planned on. Being pulled in all manners of directions with various musical thoughts being floated around inside his head would, for most people atleast, leave him a little scatter-brained. The constant studio time did quite the contrary however, if anything it let Auerbach hone in on what his sound was and display this sound not only for his friends and family, but everyone else too.
In his Akron, Ohio studio Dan Auerbach laid down some fresh recordings of some older material he had been kicking around for his debut solo album, “Keep It Hid.” The album, which features a composition from his father as well as accompanyment from his Uncle on some of the tracks, is a true accomplishment for Auerbach and the family in it’s own right.
“There’s just a few songs that I really liked that had never seen the light of day,” he notes of the album’s cuts. “My dad’s song ‘Whispered Words,’ the last song on the record — ‘Goin’ Home’ — are both songs that are kind of old, but I really liked a lot, so I thought they were worth it.”
“It’s me and my Uncle on the first song, [‘Trouble Weighs a Ton’] — just he and I singing harmony, playing acoustic guitar,” Auerbach says. “He also plays some electric guitar on ‘Street Walkin” and ‘Mean Monsoon,’ he plays rhythm guitar. He’s the guy that taught me how to play. And he taught me how to sing.”
The singing and playing could have been done by Auerbach himself, but he felt if he were to recruit his family the sound would be more cohesive and complete. “We’ve always been on the same wavelength,” he says. “There’s lots of musicians in my mom’s family especially, and we can relate to each other because we’re all music obsessed.”
The record opens with a short gospel-tinged country song, “Trouble Weighs a Ton,” which features Auerbach’s uncle, James Quine, joining in for some good Southern harmonies. While the move could and possibly will, be panned by other critics it is actually a really nice song revealing the surprisingly adept range and skill of it’s creator. This leads right into a slow-cooking fuzzy blues stew, “I Want Some More,” which falls grooves and churns and waddles around the room with a messy mix of organs and guitars. “When the Night Comes” is another acoustic number gently rolling along on a bed of synth-strings– it falls between the organ-drenched rocker, “Real Desire” and the spicy Latin-blues of “Mean Monsoon” as a reminder that this no sir this is not a Black Keys record.