Album Review: Delta Kream by The Black Keys

The Black Keys are an indie rock duo from Ohio. While having a start in 2001, they didn’t really reach commercial success until the 2010s with albums such as Brothers and El Camino. I recently reviewed their 2019 album, ‘Let’s Rock’ and was surprised that they were releasing another album in 2021. I was a bit disappointed to find out that this was a covers album, but they are going back to their blues roots. Delta Kream marks the tenth studio album for The Black Keys.

The first track from the album is Crawling Kingsnake. The first part of the track seems more like a soundcheck, and then the vocals “Ready? Yeah” come in. After that, the smooth blues feeling starts to come in. This is quite a popular cover and the original is from Junior Kimbrough. It’s a pretty decent cover in my opinion and it does give it more of a modern vibe and twist to the track. They also do a great job during the instrumental break.

Louise is a fun blues cover of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s version. Compared to the original version, there are a lot more layers added to this cover, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since I think it gives the track more character and enthusiasm. Also, the lyrics are varied a bit more on this one to make it their own track. Other than that, the last bit is quite strange to have on a studio album saying “Fade out on that? Yeah.” Anyways, they’ve been making music for several decades so I guess they can do whatever they want.

The cover of Poor Boy a Long Way From Home starts to speed up the album a bit and livens things up for this album. This is a cover of R.L. Burnside’s track from the 70s, Poor Boy. For the most part, most of the track is kept in it’s same form, except for some small lyrical changes as well as adding more layers to the track. If I didn’t know this album was made up of several covers, I would easily guess that this would be an original piece from The Black Keys.

Stay All Night slows things and tones things down a lot. You just have a solo guitar for a good chunk of the introduction of the track. Just when you thought we wouldn’t get some repeat artists, we have another Junior Kimbrough cover. Honestly, this is one of the only tracks that doesn’t have that many stylistic changes compared to the original, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing since this is a decent track. I do wish they would have put more of their own twist on this track though.

Going Down South keeps the slow and melodic blues swing going, but the tone of the track is different from the previous track. I do find it a bit strange that they’re using their falsetto voice for this track it just seems a bit off. I’m glad that they’re putting their own twist on the track by using the falsetto, but I just don’t think it works that well with this track, especially with all of the artistic solos they were able to put together on here.

Coal Black Mattie opens up with some inaudible vocals, but opens up with a quick introduction. We are also greeted by his regular vocals again so it’s nice to hear his regular voice again. However, the instrumentation has stayed the same for most of the album up to this point, so it’s getting a bit repetitive. While there are some slight changes to make this track interesting enough, it may get stale if they keep up with the same instrumentation.

Do the Romp may be familiar to some fans of The Black Keys. Minus the subtle and simple drumbeat at the beginning to open the track, they actually covered this track on their debut album, The Big Come Up. Instead, they named it Do The Rump. This time, they were able to stay more true to the blues sound on Delta Kream so this version may sound much better and cleaner. Other than that, I’m glad they decided to revisit this track.

We have some more Junior Kimbrough influence on this cover album with Sad Days, Lonely Nights. This one is a bit toned down in intensity, especially after what we experienced on the previous track. The guitar and bass just seem a bit lazy on this track and repetitive so it’s been a bit lackluster compared to some of the other tracks we have heard so far. Other than that, I’m not really finding any ‘stand out’ tracks on this album by now.

Walk With Me opens up with a fun drumbeat. The guitar and bass licks are fun too once they come into the mix. Just as you would expect, this is another, you guessed it, Junior Kimbrough cover from the album. Dan’s vocals seem a bit lazy on this one, and kind of hard to understand, especially in the first half of the track. I wish they took more interest in soloing in between verses. They are soloing, but it just seems to close to the original track to where it just disappears in the background.

Mellow Peaches brings in a classic blues swing. While this isn’t a Junior Kimbrough cover, we do have another R.L. Burnside cover added to the mix. Lyrically, there isn’t really too much going on here so they really have to hit it away instrumentally if they want to make this one stick with us. The good part is that they’re actually able to make this workout. They take a lot of personal integrity into soloing and keeping the blues feeling on this cover.

The final track we have on the project is Come on and Go with Me. The final track is also a Junior Kimbrough cover, if you were wondering. I was wondering if I was missing something from this track since it just seems so anti-climactic for a closer on an album. I was disappointed since nothing ever came sneaking up on this track. It was just a slowed down track that didn’t really sound different from most of the other tracks on the album.

Not a terrible project, but most of the tracks just seem to blend in with each other and they all start to sound the same after a few listens. I had a really hard time going back and figuring out which tracks were which since there wasn’t any special ‘wow’ factors from that many of the tracks.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Favorite Tracks: Crawling Kingsnake, Poor Boy A Long Way From Home, Do the Romp, Mellow Peaches

Originally published at

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