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Locked Down

by: Dr. John

Album Artwork

(Nonesuch)

The Black Keys' guitarist Dan Auerbach produced Dr. John's latest studio release Locked Down. Dr. John and Auerbach wrote the ten originals on this album together. It's an interesting batch of songs...

Dr. John's musical legend speaks for itself. It seems Auerbach learned a thing or two from producer Mark Neill. There are more traces of street funk on Locked Down than Dr. John's well-known bayou-soaked sound, but that's what makes this collection so compelling. Auerbach's guitar-style fits this change in Dr. John's direction. A hypnotic syncopation emanates from these songs.

The title tracks opens the disc with a brief, weird interlude that conjures the old Night Tripper days, but soon one hears a different strain of sound in the grooves. "Revolution" contains grains of SKA and R & B tones, while Dr. John's lyrics reveal contemporary woes. "Big Shot" injects a hallucinogenic quality to the lazy musical parade this song paints. "Ice Age" contains a STAX sonic landscape, but Dr. John's seminal voice jerks the listener into the here and now when he sings: "The KKK and CIA are playing in the same game/It's an ice age...Now we're all hanging' at the end of our ropes."

On the hopped-up number "Getaway" Dr. John sings: "Strung out on thrills/Livin' wild on a crooked road/With a carved out smile," as Auerbach provides a strong rhythm with his guitar. Auerbach's gritty riff to begin "You Lie" solidifies this as one of the strongest tracks on Locked Down. It's good to hear Dr. John making music like this in 2012. "Eleggua" emits a fatback soul that sounds like a soundtrack that could have been utilized in Rudy Ray Moore's Petey Wheatsraw--The Devil's Son-In-Law.

Dr. John's soothing organ on "My Children, My Angels" really casts a mellow, but uplifting spirit before he even says "I love y'all and there ain't nothin' you can do about it."

The final track on Locked Down, "God's Sure Good", is an up-beat blues rocker that contends as one of Dr. John's finest tunes in some time. Locked Down holds up from song to song...there's no fat on this collection to trim. It should be added to the music collection ASAP.

James Calemine

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