Album Review: Dr. John, 'Locked Down'


"Locked Down"
Producer: Dan Auerbach
Nonesuch Records
Release Date: April 3

Decades of albums that precede Dr. John's newest release, "Locked Down," mostly fit in two categories: celebrations of either New Orleans or pre-rock'n'roll songwriters. The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach changes that by pushing the pianist/singer beyond the Crescent City's limits and the songwriting masters who inspired him as a youth. Unburdened by the stamp of time or geography results in an album that could've easily come from other Mississippi River stops where horns and funk pump through the bloodstreams-Chicago, Memphis or St. Louis. Auerbach pulls out a musical tool belt to guide the 71-year-old to new areas: The song "Ice Age" draws on percussive African guitar lines and synthesizer fills; "Eleggua" overlaps Curtis Mayfield, gris-gris funk and a sweet soul hook; and "You Lie" offers a taste of what Dr. John would sound like if the Black Keys and Morphine joined forces to back him. The last time Dr. John attempted to update his sound was 14 years ago with Anutha Zone that featured Paul Weller and other Brits keen on his early voodoo funk albums. Auerbach is more of a kindred spirit with an affinity for making horn sections sound simultaneously retro and modern.

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