Keep It Hid

Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, aka The Black Keys, make an amazingly huge sound for just two guys. Imagine if you pared their output down to one guy, what might you get? In the case of Dan Auerbach’s debut solo release the answer is a more nuanced and intimate atmosphere that runs from delicate folk influenced ballads to raw rockers that rattle the walls.

Keep It Hid begins with the acoustic “Trouble Weighs a Ton.” Strummed acoustic guitars and harmony vocals suggest the influence of Auerbach’s bluegrass roots – his mother’s family has played this unique American music for more than a generation. The 2nd track, “I Want Some More,” is an organ, drum and guitar driven rocker with Auerbach’s distorted vocals riding rough shod atop it all. At this point in the record it is pretty clear that Auerbach is more than a one-trick pony. This guy can take you anywhere and although he could do it on his own – he plays a multitude of instruments – he has built a band to join him at his home studio.

Auerbach, a self-professed studio nut, recorded Keep It Hid at his Akron Analog Studio. As the name suggests the sound of the record is dictated by the authentic sound of rebuilt 1950 era recording equipment and works particularly well in grabbing Auerbach’s big echoing guitar riffs. Auerbach’s music often has a sweaty, swampy sound to it, as if it emanated from the Louisiana Bayou. At other moments you can hear a Jimmy Page feel to the guitar work on “Heartbroken, In Disrepair.” Delta blues collide with psychedelic grunge on “Mean Monsoon,” and Auerbach offers a pretty respite on “When the Night Comes” which features an upright bass.

Auerbach worked primarily with Bob Cesare, who drummed, played guitar and acted as assistant engineer. Other musicians brought to the process are Auerbach’s protégé and budding singer/songwriter Jessica Lee Mayfield. James Quine, Auerbach’s uncle and cousin to the late NYC guitarist Robert Quine, plays guitar and you can hear Robert’s spirit in the tracks that feature his family.

The workaholic Auerbach hasn’t taken much down-time since the Black Keys debut album and if this record is any indication he’s got a lot of pent up ideas that make his current and future work something to eagerly anticipate.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix Host)