Apparently, “going solo” can now mean doubling the size of your band. If you’re Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, anyway, it makes sense. Keep It Hid is Auerbach’s first solo effort, and unlike the typical stripped-down rocker side project, it actually offers Auerbach a chance for expansion, escaping the sometimes limited framework of his other band’s guitar/drums equation. Accordingly, Keep It Hid doesn’t sound like a Black Keys record, but it also doesn’t leave one reason to worry about drummer Pat Carney becoming Andrew Ridgeley. Auerbach might be spreading his wings here, but he’s not flying away from Akron, Ohio.
After misleading the listener a bit with some folk-acoustic meandering (“Trouble Weighs a Ton”), Auerbach quickly plugs the electric in—as well as an Iron Butterfly organ—for the psychedelic “I Want Some More.” Song titles and lyrics have never been his strong suit, so nothing new there, but Keep It Hid definitely holds interest from that point on. “Whispered Words” kind of sounds like a lost CCR basement recording, and “When the Night Comes” has a sweetness and fragility to it that Auerbach rarely ever hinted at on any of the Black Keys’ more macho, fuzz-blues ballads. If there is one thing intact from Dan’s better-known band, however, it’s the perfect imperfection that only a makeshift Akron studio like this one can duplicate.