Delta Kream Honors Influences of The Black Keys as a Masterclass Tribute Album

4.4 out of 5 stars

The Black Keys released their 10th studio album on Friday, May 14th called Delta Kream.

The one thing I will say to start this review is that I will never rate an album of cover songs with a 5 star rating - no matter how good it is. I just don’t think cover albums should exist, to be honest.

Having said that, The Black Keys have set themselves apart from most cover albums that are ever made in the sense that they have yet to ever do a cover album of popular music.

Instead, they choose to create what I would prefer to call “tribute” albums to honor legendary musicians whom The Black Keys hope to bring back the adulation that these blues greats deserve.

In that sense, I will say that The Black Keys have always done a great job in doing this. They previously released a “tribute” album back in 2006 called Chulahoma: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough, and they have previously had a couple of cover songs of past blues musicians (most notably Junior Kimbrough) in other albums.

This new album is a lot like those past efforts, and while I am not as big of a fan of these albums and songs, they do showcase an amazing ability by the band to play incredibly intricate musical pieces highlighted by long guitar solos and syncopated drum beats.

The one big issue for me with this album (other than it being a cover album) is that The Black Keys don’t deliver much in the way of their own interpretations of the songs.

In many ways, they play through the songs, and while some of the solos may actually be different, the feel of the songs, tempos and even singing are done to sound as much like the originals as possible. The big difference is that Dan Auerbach’s voice is not as low as many of the singers he covers. So, in that sense, it gives it their own “voice” by default.

So, here’s the deal with this album. It is GREAT blues rock for blues purists. It’s not going to have as much mainstream appeal as other Black Keys albums. But that’s actually not a bad thing.

It reminds me of the Matt Damon and Ben Affleck conversation in the Kevin Smith movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back where they are critiquing each other’s film choices by saying they do a blockbuster move (a “safe picture”), and then they do an independent film for their own creative outlet (an "art picture").

That’s exactly what I feel when I listen to this album. It’s The Black Keys' way of putting out an album for themselves. This was actually recorded at Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound studio and released on his own label as well. So, it truly is a “by them, for them” album.

If you like The Black Keys, you will like this album, but it will likely not be your favorite album by them. In fact, it may be only something you put on every so often, but the musicality of the songs is an awesome display of their talents.

The whole record was recorded in just 2 days over about 10 hours (according to a Rolling Stone interview) and nothing was planned or rehearsed. So, to put together this album so well with that parameter placed on it, puts this album into a tribute category of its own. 

Watch the Official Videos for "Crawling King Snake" and "Going Down South" below: