Album cover for the Black Keys Delta Kream

Album Review: The Black Keys – Delta Kream

The last concert I attended was the Black Keys.

Make that the last official concert. Not a livestream event or a Drive-In Nights showing. In person, amongst a crowd there to hear live music before all touring stopped.

At that time, the Black Keys were touring their ‘Let’s Rock’ album a release I initially found hard to get in to but rather enjoyed live. Something I have seemingly encountered with all their albums. They hit all the right notes on stage but it takes more than a few spins and then some at home.

As such, the duo of singer, guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney released their 10th album, Delta Kream, out today (May 14).  A collection of cover songs, the Black Keys recorded Delta Kream as a way “to honor the Mississippi hill country blues tradition that influenced us starting out,” according to Auerbach. “These songs are still as important to us today as they were the first day Pat and I started playing together and picked up our instruments.”

Reportedly, the Black Keys, along with a few other musicians spent just 10 hours in the studio with no prior rehearsals. Considering it was recorded just after the conclusion of the ‘Let’s Rock’ tour they were probably in fine musical form and considering these songs helped shape the band, the two could probably play many, if not all of them, in their sleep.

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The Black Keys Delta Kream Album Review

A bit of a departure from their original music, but knowing little about the album as I listened, it fell fully in line with the previous nine records. Delta Kream sounds like a Black Keys record and if the blues rarely pass your ears, you’d assume the 12-song, nearly hour long, record consists of original material as the Black Keys simply take a deeper dive into their collective consciousness. Covers from original artists like John Lee Hooker, Junior Kimbrough and Big Joe Williams offer a glimpse into the Black Keys’ early years.

The songs don’t sound the same but ultimately do not depart too far musically from one another. The Black Keys have, from their beginning in 2002, forged their own niche, almost incomparable to the current crop of bands and modern rock fare, and fully incorporated that into Delta Kream.

“Crawling Kingsnake” opens Delta Kream (and closes the album in an edited version) with a slow walk through a bluesy neighborhood you never depart from. A fun upbeat tempo greets you in “Poor Boy a Long Way From Home” along with a free and easy guitar solo on “Stay All Night.” The 70s come alive for the near funky style of “Going Down South”  followed by the quicker paced honky-tonk of “Coal Black Matte.” The slow grooves might raise an eyebrow on the apt named “Do the Romp” and for a real treat, check out “Mellow Peaches” the bluesiest of the bunch.

Rich guitar solos throughout Delta Kream in a down to earth package of hill country blues songs sprinkled with 70s rock, country, folk and funk.  Or more to the point, hard-nosed gritty rock as if recorded and produced out of garage that puts you in the back of a smoky underground basement with fellow connoisseurs of fine whiskey and expensive cigars.

An album maybe not for everyone,  and probably not for everyday listening, however if the mood strikes you, Delta Kream offers a visceral quality to while away the day doing what you wish without the worrying strains of guilt brought on by getting nothing accomplished, if you so choose.

Grade: B

The Black Keys Delta Kream Track List:

  1. Crawling Kingsnake
  2. Louise
  3. Poor Boy a Long Way From Home
  4. Stay All Night
  5. Going Down South
  6. Coal Black Matte
  7. Do the Romp
  8. Sad Days, Lonely Nights
  9. Walk With Me
  10. Mellow Peaches
  11. Come and Go with Me
  12. Crawling Kingsnake (edit)

5 thoughts on “Album Review: The Black Keys – Delta Kream

  1. Great write up. This is the first Black Keys release in quite a while I’ve been a wee excited about. I hoped to have spent a bit of time with it today, but what I’ve heard is great… they’re a fine band, but they really are at their best when paying tribute to those that inspired them.

    1. thanks J.! you’ll like it especially if blues is in your wheelhouse. they did a great job on all songs

  2. I’m a pretty big fan of the Black Keys, and have liked most of their music over the years. Haven’t listened to this entire album yet, but I will this week. Nice review.

    1. thanks and thanks for reading. you’ll likely enjoy it. a bit different as they are covers but still the Black Keys.

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