The Black Keys are back, baby! And not only are they back, but they’ve arrived with their new, country blues covers album, Delta Kream in tow. As the opening track on the album, “Crawling Kingsnake” is their version of Big Joe Williams’ classic, which was originally made popular by blues royalty, John Lee Hooker in the 1940s.
With a slightly grungier, edgier sound that’s a bit rawer than their previous album, Let’s Rock, “Crawling Kingsnake” is a heavily blues-inspired track that brings with it a couple of sexy-as-hell feedback-laden guitar riffs, light but driving percussion, rippling, dirty basslines, and is topped off gorgeously with the soul-stirring vocals of frontman, Dan Auerbach. It’s full of that old-school, ominous, bluesy swagger, and sees the Black Keys go back to their roots.
The new album is an homage to their musical influences and inspirations and features 11 Mississippi hill country blues classics, including tracks by Junior Kimbrough and R. L. Burnside. On the album, Auerbach said in a press statement:
“We made this record to honor the Mississippi hill country blues tradition that influenced us starting out. These songs are still as important to us today as they were the first day Pat and I started playing together and picked up our instruments. It was a very inspiring session with Pat and me along with Kenny Brown and Eric Deaton in a circle, playing these songs. It felt so natural.”
The band’s drummer, Patrick Carney, adds:
“The session was planned only days in advance and nothing was rehearsed. We recorded the entire album in about 10 hours, over two afternoons, at the end of the ‘Let’s Rock’ tour.”
That natural feeling emanates throughout the album’s first single, creating a grittier, more expansive sound than we’re used to from The Black Keys, and it’s a very welcome and highly effective addition.
Delta Kream, the band’s tenth studio album, is out May 14, 2021, via Nonesuch Records.