Opening track “Trouble Weighs a Ton” is a rootsy pastoral folk tune of which when I first heard it I thought I was listening to a Mumford and Sons album. I certainly wasn’t expecting a Dan Auerbach solo album to start with a soft folk tune, but I was pleasantly surprised that it did. “I Want Some More” has an early-Black Keys feel to it with its swampy rhythm and dirty blues sound, while tracks such as “The Prowl”, “Keep It Hid” and “Street Walkin’” continues this theme with heavily distorted guitars and a blues rock template . “My Last Mistake” is one of Auerbach’s most poppy songs out of all his repertoire including his work with the Black Keys, and his also one of his best. Written in a similar vain to the tracks on Keys album El Camino, this is blues pop at its very best in the form of a driving backing track of guitar, bass and drums, as well as a very catchy melody which bounces along at you as you listen. The heavier blues tracks on this album are separated out nicely by some softer tracks where Auerbach shows off his tender side more so than he ever has done on any Black Keys album for mine. “Real Desire” is a beautiful soulful blues ballad laced with organ and very delicate guitar playing, while “When The Night Comes” is just Auerbach playing acoustic guitar and singing accompanied by a synth backing track. Album closer “Goin Home” probably gets the award for the softest track on the album and would also be in contention for the most beautiful, with Auerbach’s delightful finger picking and heartfelt vocal delivery floating along together in tandem in what is a gorgeous end to the album. What this album shows if anything is that this man can write softer soulful tracks just as good as he writes hard out blues rock epics, whilst singing them as equally as good.
In conclusion then, I would say that Keep It Hid was an excellent debut for the Black Keys front man who showed with this release how he isn’t just a one dimensional blues rocker. Auerbach does a fantastic job in showing off his full range of musical abilities both as a songwriter and a player on multiple instruments on this album, while also giving a glimpse of his softer side as a song-writer, in particular showing how he can write tranquil folk songs as well as down to earth soulful blues. Keep It Hid is well worth a listen if you are into the Black Keys, especially their earlier work, and want to find out what Auerbach sounds like on his own. I thoroughly recommend this album, and I am sure you will be just as pleasantly surprised at the quality of the material as I was.