Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

DR. JOHN

LOCKED DOWN

2012-04-22

Dr. John has been around the musical block so many times in his career, he could be forgiven if he was found on repeat mode as he rounded yet another musical corner. Let’s see. This lap, should it be covers of New Orleans classics? Should it be brass-drenched second line grooves or Duke Ellington style big band music? How about lounge ready ballads? Funky political rants? Mystical, voodoo-inspired riddles? Solo piano? How about some of all of the above? This musical lap finds Dr. John pressing “play” on a random play mix that features big doses of funky guitar compliments of Dan Auerbach of Black Keys fame coupled with his own classic deep pocket groove and almost impenetrable street slang. Leaving his piano aside in favor of a Hammond B3, a Fender Rhodes and even a Farfisa, Dr. John and Auerbach create a rich, nuanced texture that recalls the psychedelic work of the Doors more than the street party vibe of his own prior work. One listen, though, and there’s no mistaking either Dr. John’s gritty, gruff vocals or his stream of consciousness lyrics. While the political bent of his last few discs is present on Revolution where he laments how blind justice allows all manner of misdeeds and calls for a revolution to fix things, his focus is broader this time around. On Big Shot he doesn’t let his 70 years get in the way of putting the moves on the ladies and boasting he’ll be the best they’ll experience. Ice Age has an incessant beat to match his concern about not keeping up: “World ain’t movin’ too fast/You just movin’ too slow.” The rip-saw guitar lines and icy keys of Getaway would fit well on the Black Keys disc but the wild-eyed vision of unrequited love is pure Dr. John. On You Lie he lays into liars while Eleggua is a drum-driven voodoo rant. Kingdom of Izzness starts with a video-game style funky beat and then gives way to a sinewy groove and the observation that there is much confusion and few answers from organized religion or any other source. He backtracks on that sentiment on God’s Sure Good where he gets his answers from the Almighty. My Children, My Angels is the most straight-forward track here with its sentimental embrace of his children and his offering of hard-earned advice. Despite the sometimes head-scratching lyrics, this is a fine listen. SMITTY

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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