Dan Auerbach is a busy man. He seems to spend a lot of time making music with others while also making it for himself. The results tend to be ageless music that feels like an old friend. Auerbach rose to prominence as one half of the rocking duo The Black Keys. Since that success with mate Patrick Carney, Auerbach has lived the music maker’s dream life. He has his own production studio and record company. He has made music with his musical heroes like Dr. John and also hung with Pop royalty like Lana Del Ray and recently just completed an audio love letter of sorts to Nashville the place he now calls home. Auerbach’s second solo record, Waiting On A Song is just one more example of the elegance with which Auerbach has handled his rare talent by choosing art over cash.
First there was the brilliance of the at the time, underground band The Black Keys. Emerging in the shadows of The White Stripes both in colorful name and in sonics, Auerbach and Carney delivered a landmark LP with their second release – 2003’s Thickfreakness. Had the band stopped there they would have been remembered as independent music scene gods; However, unlike the ill-fated White Stripes, The Keys forged a career of relentless touring and six more standout LPs over the course of 10 years winning five Grammys and numerous nominations. Ask a fan to name their favorite album and you get lengthy arguments for Attack And Release, Brothers and El Camino- a sign of their studio work’s depth.
The drum and guitar duel made a living off of festival headliner gigs from Coachella to Lollapalooza, amongst a hosts of international bookings, and the opportunities to continue that path seem endless, but that’s not what Auerbach has planned. According to him in a Rolling Stone Magazine podcast, he routinely turns down monster cash offers to regroup with Carney for a tour. Auerbach says maybe someday, but not today. Today he says he just wants to make music and make it well and with the best intentions and best musicians he can find. That’s where his latest solo release fits the bill.
A love song to his new hometown of Nashville, Waiting On A Song features some rambling country, tasty Americana and of course some blazing guitar work. But not all of that six string strumming comes from Auerbach. That’s the thing about Auerbach. His modesty and willingness to let others shine. And what an all star group he enlists on this record including Duane Eddy, Jerry Douglas, Pat McLaughlin and a very unusual star turn by Mark Knopfler. For songwriting support, Auerbach shares the duties with the legendary John Prine amongst others. It’s a amalgamation of rockabilly and country soul with a rough rock edge that turns Waiting into a music delight.
According to Auerbach there were over 200 songs that came out of his recent forays into the studio with no pretensions and the dozen he choose for the record do not necessarily fit into any singular theme or grand musical statement. Auerbach suggests that’s the point. These are organic songs that came from the hours of noodling away with some legendary musicians. The outcome is a record that you’ll enjoy returning to again and again. In a way, it reminds me of that dear high school friend who through life circumstances doesn’t live near you nor do you have resources to consistently hook up, but when you do, it’s like no time has elapsed at all. You will experience that with this record. It will be like you’ve heard these songs before and they provide a comfort to you and yet it will all be new again.