August 4, 2021

THE BLACK KEYS – ‘Delta Kream’

I don’t know which fly has bitten many groups so that they have launched themselves in a whirlwind to record cover discs. A type of work that was relegated to a commercial background, but that seems to be experiencing a small boom in recent times.

Examples as notorious as Weezer, Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day, Qverno or Monster Magnet, who will also soon release their own cover album, we must add to The Black Keys. Although at least in the case of the Akron couple it seems that there is some justification in it.

Once the presentation tour of Let’s Rock and with the intention of reconnecting and honoring his roots and bedside idols, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney locked themselves up for two days in the studio of the former (Nashville’s Easy Eye Sound) to record a series of original pieces by blues leaders such as RL Burnside, John Lee Hoker or Junior Kimbrough. For this, they had the help of two old dogs in the field such as guitarist Kenny Brown and bassist Eric Deaton, both members of the Burnside and Kimbrough backing groups respectively.

On paper Delta Kream it is presented as a sincere and almost improvised-looking album. The production helps to generate that feeling of listening to a group of colleagues who have decided to meet up at the venue, open a few beers and spend the afternoon playing some of their favorite songs. They say that it only took them about 10 hours to record it and it shows that they did not need many takes to give it the go-ahead. Although the adaptations of classics like ‘Crawling Kingsnake’, ‘Going Down South’ or ‘Sad Days, Lonely Nights’ are executed with the mastery of some guys who dominate the genre, there is also a somewhat sloppy closure. Which ends up giving it its charm even.

So where is the problem? Well, The Black Keys have approached this series of issues with great respect. Maybe even too much. It is obvious that the blues is one of their main influences, but if they have made a name for themselves on the scene for something, it is partly because at the time they knew how to modernize it through the garage, just like The White Stripes did. In contrast, the revisions here lack distortion and dynamism, making the set somewhat tedious as the cuts go by. Just ‘Poor Boy Long Way From Home’, ‘Coal Black Mattie’ and ‘Do The Ramp’ inject some blood.

In other words, unless you’re a true blues fan (and to be honest, I highly doubt the average Black Keys fan is), face an album like Delta Kream it can be done a bit uphill. And while it’s enjoyable at times, I’m sure Auerbach and Carney would have had a better time recording it than you will listening to it.

GONZALO PUEBLA