***** out of *****
While The Black Keys have gone on to become one of the biggest bands in the world in 2012, Dan Auerbach’s proudest accomplishment may have nothing to do with the duo but rather with producing a 71 year old Malcolm John "Mac" Rebennack, Jr’s best album of his career with the recent Locked Down. It is a testament to both Rebennack aka Dr John and Auerbach that the craft and detail that went into this disk sounds effortless, the sounds were always there and they were just waiting for the right time to flow out.
From the swampy crow calls and jangles that start the title track there is a vibrant/alive feel to the proceedings. "Locked Down" bubbles up with a killer bass line from Nick Movshon while Dr. John's vocals mingle with the mystics in front of the group "ah-ha-ha's" and killer guitar solo from Auerbach.
The funkiness rolls on down the crooked road with "Getaway" as it flashes by "St. James Infirmary" with it's musical tribute to the past sandwiched around Auerbach's blazing axe work while "Ice Age" contemplates the present over frosty multilayer grooves. Dr. John's keyboard work is almost as effective as his lyrics on this questioning track that worms it's way into your ears as well as your hips.
The call for "Revolution" comes out over a brutally funky baritone saxophone and snapping drums. There is a fiery uprising happening underneath all the rhythmic upheaval that makes this track sound dangerous, thankfully the good doctor calms things down advising us to "just pray on it".
"My Children, My Angels" eases the proceedings, starting with an easy organ intro before gently rising to the heavens for the chorus, a blissful ride before we are brought back to earth via Auerbach's dirty guitar lines. The juxtaposition and layering on this song (and Locked Down in general) is astounding, lending to multiple listens too discover new sounds and twists presented deep within.
The triumphant album closing "God's So Good" rejoices in the gospel vibe as Auerbach flashes an Allman Brothers guitar line before backup singers praise the Lord and Dr. John's funky keys flash pure salvation, ending the triumphant album on a joyous note; this release sure is blessed.
Easily a contender for album of the year and the best Dr. John has sounded since Gris-Gris his first release back in 1968, Locked Down is a winning mix of modern day, a fantastic producer/guitar player and a legend who is seemingly reborn here late in life. Can't hype this one enough, grab it here and keep tabs on the good Dr here. Below are some samples:
"My Children, My Angels"