Dr. John, Locked Down (2012)

Dr. John, “Revolution [Teaser]” (2012)

A lot has been made recently about the Black Keys’ guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach’s involvement in Dr. John’s new album Locked Down, which should come as no surprise, seeing as the Black Keys are the current flag-bearers of roots-, blues-, and soul-rock, territory that Dr. John has stalked for most of his career. Auerbach serves as producer and guitar contributor on this set of ten songs, and his presence shows. The production bears a striking similarity to the Black Keys’ sound from 2008 onwards, with murky vocals, neo-retro keyboards and a funky swagger. Many of the song lead-ins feel like lost Danger Mouse backing tracks with their break-filled drumming and horn charts. This sound works well with Dr. John’s signature vocal style, still incredibly unchanged after 44 years, bringing the Doctor in line with the current neo-retro fascination.

The second most common topic to come up in the discussion of this album seems to be Dr. John’s return to Nite Tripper-era atmospherics, and while this is somewhat accurate, as Auerbach’s production adds a swampy layer of murk, the songwriting itself lies closer to the Doctor’s 1972-1974 era albums, than his 1968-1971 style. As such, Locked Down doesn’t contain an experimental freak-out in the vein of “Croker Courtbuillon,” nor a 17-minute “Angola Anthem” jam-along. Given that these more left-field adventures are what gave the Nite Tripper-era albums their dynamism, Locked Down is a much more consistent affair, like his 1972-1974 albums. Despite the Nite Tripper referencing reviews and album art, which is awesome, by the way, Locked Down feels more like the spiritual successor to In The Right Place (1973), than Gris-Gris (1968). The album, in its entirety, is a very enjoyable listen, full of funky grooves and a great vibes, and the songs stand up to individual scrutiny, ranging from the overpoweringly groovy “Revolution” to the more contemplative “My Children, My Angels.” Check out the teaser video below, and be sure to pick up the album at your local, independent record retailer.

Dr. John, “Locked Down [Teaser]” (2012)

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Filed under Blues, Contemporary Blues, Jazz, Music, New Orleans, Rock, Soul

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