Hard To Believe This Is The Same Dan Auerbach From The Black Keys

It has long been said that the greatest artists are those with the courage and the creativity to constantly change and grow. The Beatles, in a very short career, and Bob Dylan, in a very long one – perhaps Rock’s greatest artists of all time – are shining examples of this theory. Changing things up is never easy, and it almost always alienates your devoted fans, but the best artists are practically compelled to do it in the quest to feed their elusive muse.

Dan Auerbach, co-founder and guitarist of the Black Keys, has changed things up so much in the past year that it’s hard to believe it’s all coming from the same person. The Black Keys of course are one of the great Indie Rock success stories of the 21st century, rocketing their their edgy, hard-hitting two-man Blues Rock out of obscurity and into the big time, a well-deserved testament to the talents of Auerbach and his partner Pat Carney.

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Last year the two decided to take a hiatus from the band and pursue other projects. Auerbach opted to dig deep into the historical sound of his adopted hometown Nashville, and came up with the album Waiting On A Song, a fascinating collection of pop, country and soul stylings borrowed from the 1970s. He enlisted the services of Nashville veterans like John Prine and Duane Eddy, and put the emphasis on songwriting. Auerbach said most of the Black Keys material was written and forged in the studio, but for this project he wanted to do it the old fashioned way and have dozens of songs written before setting foot in a recording booth.

There were a lot of great organic sounds on the album, but it all sounded a little too derivative to me, an exercise in songwriting that was lacking a bit in the heart and soul department. And now this week comes a new single from Auerbach called “Up On A Mountain Of Love”, and it looks like he’s taking his musical change-up to even greater extremes. This is the sweetest, most gentle song you could possibly imagine, and it’s crazy to think it’s the same guy that did “Next Girl” and “Lonely Boy”.

Personally I’ve got nothing at all against sweet and gentle songs, but most Black Keys fans will surely not dig it. In any case, full marks to Auerbach for having the guts and conviction to make such a sharp musical left turn.


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