The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach used to make annual pilgrimages to the Mississippi Delta, starting on Nashville's Music Row and detouring west through Memphis, if only to dig through the bins at Shangri-La Records. The Akron, Ohio, native's self-produced and perfectly sequenced solo debut, Keep It Hid, plays out like the soundtrack to that voyage: It's an intimate trek down gravel roads and back alleys to the crossroads of American music.
Like last year's eerily seductive Attack and Release, the Black Keys' modern makeover courtesy of producer Danger Mouse, Keep It Hid revels in the shadows, as evidenced by the Depression-era folk blues of opener "Trouble Weighs a Ton," the acoustic ballad "When the Night Comes" and the wicked, snake-charming allure of "Mean Monsoon." Auerbach waxes nostalgic with his haunting, echo guitar chill in "Heartbroken, In Disrepair" and the gothic Delta blues of "When I Left the Room," while the thunderous Wayne Carson Thompson cover "I Want Some More" marks Auerbach's heaviest and most psychedelic work to date.
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There are times, like in the '60s pop of "My Last Mistake," where Patrick Carney's percussive coloring would immensely benefit the album, but Auerbach ultimately proves he's able to roam freely on the path less taken.