The Black Keys — Delta Kream — Album Review

Alternative | Blues | Rock

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

In my mind, The Black Keys always seemed like that kind of group that I’ve know of for a long time, but I’ve never really hyped them up all too much. I remember the buzz surrounding their 2011 album El Camino, which is still to this day my favourite album from them. Furthermore, I have always enjoyed their music, but I’ve been longing for a project that captures the essence of what El Camino brought back when it was released.

I was hoping that I would get that kind of buzz from their previous album release, 2019’s “Let’s Rock”. And while the best tracks on that record were amongst my favourites from the blues-rock duo, the remainder of the album felt pretty stale and stereotypically “rock” in comparison.

But with The Black Keys entering their next musical decade, through the release of their tenth studio album, Delta Kream see the band take a different approach.

This album essentially serves a compilation of cover songs, and while they were growing up, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney (the two members of The Black Keys), learned to play each of these songs. With this knowledge, I was impressed that The Black Keys managed to use their style to tie all of these tracks together, and make them all feel like they belonged on the same album to begin with. Despite this however, the duo still channel that classic blues feel successfully, through the incredibly raw and authentic sound of Delta Kream, and its “get it done in one take” recording style.

I wish that I was knowledgeable enough to say that I knew of the songs that Black Keys were covering, but unfortunately, my knowhow of Blues history isn’t entirely up-to-scratch. That being said, I felt that it would only be fair to listen to Delta Kream, as if I was listening to a batch of completely original tracks.

I really wanted to be wowed by this album, I truly did. And while I feel that Delta Kream has grown on me past being equal to “Let’s Rock”, there’s one glaring issue that detracted from the overall satisfaction that I felt from the album.

There is a worrying number of tracks on this album, that in my mind, sound almost exactly the same. I can recall at least four tracks on Delta Kream that share that same cold, soulful melody, and all share similar riffs. I felt like if you took pieces of these tunes and put them together in one track, I bet that no one would bat an eye. Offenders of this include “Crawling Kingsnake”, “Stay All Night”, “Sad Days, Lonely Nights”, “Walk With Me”, and “Come on and Go With Me”. And I feel that if you listened to any of these songs, you’d get a basic idea of how the album sounds.

My only other gripe really, would be that a fair few of the tracks, also felt a bit patience-testing. I felt this way towards “Crawling Kingsnake” when it was released as a teaser track, so I was obviously relieved to see a shortened edit on the full album. I just wish that some of the other track got that same treatment.

Making a U-turn towards the more positive qualities of Delta Kream, I found myself enjoying the album more and more as it went along. I would say that the high-point of this album for me, would be the mid-section, where tracks like “Coal Black Mattie” and “Do The Romp” can be found. The energy that The Black Keys brought to tracks like these felt very unique; in contrast to how they would make a dynamic track on an album like “Let’s Rock” for example. They really did well to concentrate their dynamic energy into the groove of this albums more upbeat tunes. And as a result, it was those kinds of tunes that carry the weight of Delta Kream.

Favourite Tracks: Poor Boy a Long Way from Home | Coal Black Mattie | Do The Romp

Least Favourite Track: Come on and Go With Me

Nonesuch Records

Enjoyment: 7/10 | Memorability: 7/10 | Atmosphere: 9/10

Uniqueness: 6/10 | Satisfaction: 5/10 | Narrative: 7/10

Final Score: 7/10



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Joe Boothby

Joe Boothby

My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.