Review: Nashville influence shines through on Dan Auerbach's latest solo project

The Black Keys frontman's reoccurring tendency to channel his music idols births an inspired take on 70s bluegrass and rock

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click to enlarge Review: Nashville influence shines through on Dan Auerbach's latest solo project
Alysee Gafkjen

Dan Auerbach has long been a connoisseur of the sounds from his favorite music idols.

Early on as lead singer/guitarist of the Black Keys, Auerbach re-popularized garage rock while channeling childhood idols Howlin' Wolf and Isaac Hayes onto the band's first few records, especially the Keys' debut The Big Come UpMore recently, especially on 2014's Turn Blue, he turned towards psychedelic samplings reminiscent of Pink Floyd into modern rock classics like the song "Weight of Love."

Now, after over a year and a half hiatus from the Keys, Auerbach's musical interests shine through on his latest solo project, Waiting On A Song (set for release June 2 via Easy Eye Sound).


In both a figurative and obviously literal way, this is not a Black Keys record. As aforementioned, the current Nashville resident is a year and a half removed from playing with long time partner Patrick Carney (the second half of the duo which makes up the Black Keys) and over three years from their last album release.

Auerbach has dug deeper to his current surroundings (Nashville, aka "Music City, U.S.A.") since. For this latest solo project, Auerbach relentlessly wrote, played and recorded over the last year with country music legends John Prine, Duane Eddy and many others. During these recording sessions, which all took play within Dan Auerbach's own Easy Eye Sound studio, the group worked on over 60 songs. The collective's influence weighs heavily on Auerbach's latest nod to his constantly evolving musical interests.

The album opens with a noticeably jovial rhythm and theme over its first four tracks. It feels more quirky than a Keys album, with spontaneous bells, strings sections and 'sing-songy' choruses. The title track, which he co-wrote with John Prine, embodies this description. Auerbach's vocals drop in to a upbeat collaboration of tambourine and bells, and show a less lyrically imposing side of the 38-year old.

In the past, Auerbach's bluesy infliction and patented distortion on vocals lent to a more self reflecting and brooding mood. On Waiting On A Song, he delivers a summer album with far lighter lyrical and musical subject matter. As he did with his music idols in the past, Auerbach finds himself channeling the 70s bluegrass/country stars that helped inspire and put the record together.

Auerbach seems much more intent on dishing out a good vibe on this. Definitely more than he wants to experiment with the blues/garage rock sound that made him one of the more important figures of rock and roll in the 2010s. And in that sense, the record is a gleaming success. With it's persistent gleeful sound and blush-inducing melodies, the album begs to be listened to while driving out under the summer sun, preferably with the windows down. It showcases Auerbach's ability to cross over into yet another genre, while still showcasing the musical talents that have made him so popular among music fans.

3.5/5 stars

Waiting On A Song will be released on June 2. Call your local record store to see if it'll carry the release. Listen to it (via NPR) below.

About The Author

LJ Hilberath

Franz “LJ” Hilberath is a Clearwater-native who contributes to Creative Loafing's Music section. He previously served as an intern and is now a freelance contributor for all things music.LJ can be found in the field reviewing concerts and music festivals around the country, and also works interviews for both local...
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