By Andy Dunbar
Dan Auerbach, best known as one half of popular alternative rock band The Black Keys, released his second solo album “Waiting on a Song” a follow-up to 2009’s “Keep it Hid,” on June 2. This album includes collaborations with Pat McLaughlin, John Prine, Jerry Douglas, Duane Eddy, Gene Chrisman and Bobby Wood of the Memphis Boys.
Auerbach, who has also done work with fellow indie darling Cage the Elephant, doesn’t lean too heavily on the Keys’ blues-rock influences. This album marks a departure from the band’s signature sound and Auerbach, instead, opts to craft a loftier sound that’s more acoustic and orchestral in nature, with folk roots deeply reminiscent of the city where he’s now based, Nashville.
He makes full use of acoustic rhythm guitar and electric lead, piano, violin and thumping
drums paired with lyrics that are easy to sing along. The album is, above all else, effortlessly listenable.
Although the fuzzy electric guitar, a staple of the Black Keys, is mostly gone, there is enough new material here to enjoy: see the twinkling bells of “Undertow” and “Waiting on a Song.” There’s also enough familiar territory to leave hardcore Keys fans satisfied. Listen to the last 45 seconds of “Stand By My Girl,” which features a bluesy electric guitar solo, one of the record’s standouts for your Keys moment.
As a whole, Auerbach succeeds in capturing that 60s and 70s country rock/soul feel that is so likable. Listen to “Cherrybomb,” and then listen to Buffalo Springfield’s iconic “For What It’s Worth,” where even Auerbach’s inflections are similar. Dedicated listeners can hear his inspiration and influences.
Artists like Auerbach deserve radio play in today’s narcissistic pop age and listeners can hear his love for his craft in every track on “Waiting on a Song.” Just listen to Auerbach’s deeply personal lyrics in “Never in my Wildest Dreams.”
Unfortunately, the album falters in the familiarity between the 10 songs. Auerbach worked so hard to craft a similar sound and it seems to have worked a little too well. Each song seems dependent on the next, and few truly stand out on their own.
Although a tad repetitive and a little forgettable, it doesn’t mean this isn’t a good album and it certainly is a fun entry to Auerbach’s discography.