in Review

Dr. John – Locked Down

Why would I have any interest in the latest album from an artist I was never that big a fan of in the first place? I like some of Dr. John’s hits, I have the In the Right Place album and I was content with that. Then somehow I heard a cut off of Locked Down and was impressed by how retro it sounded. In my experience whenever you get the latest from an artist who’s been around for awhile it does whatever it can to sound contemporary. Locked Down on the other hand uses tons of retro sounds and vintage instruments. It’s almost like Dr. John is trying to travel back in time on this one. I was curious as to why this sounded so different yet familiar and then it all made sense. Locked Down was produced/co-written by Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach who also plays extensively on the album.

Listening to Locked Down now, it almost sounds too much like The Black Keys. Auerbach’s influence is awfully strong, so much so that I wonder if Dr. John even knew what was going on. I get the feeling at times that Auerbach may be carrying too much of load due to the fact that Dr. John just isn’t as sharp as he used to be. Then again that’s all just speculation, so I should probably just focus on the songs.

The songs on Locked Down are fairly standard bluesy, funk numbers. Dr. John’s Cajun drawl is still as stylish as ever and there some delightfully old school sounds surrounding him. I only wish there was more new to offer in the songwriting department. Most of the songs on Locked Down are likable enough, but too derivative of not only past artists, but of past Dr. John material.

All in all it was an interesting experiment. I never thought I’d check out anything by a post-seventies Dr. John, so that’s saying something. I know some critics have really enjoyed this new album, and I’m happy for them. I’m also glad to see that Dr. John can still be critically relevant in 2012. Still I am no more than mildly pleased with Locked Down.

Favorite Tracks: “Eleggua”, “Locked Down”, “Revolution”