Dan Auerbach at KCRW’s Apogee Sessions

 On stage at Apogee Studios, playing songs from his new album, “Waiting On A Song” (Nonesuch/Easy Eye) for a future broadcast on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic,  Dan Auerbach certainly looks relaxed. Hair a trifle shaggy, his eyes a little sleepy-looking, he appears to be a man without a trouble in the world.

It’s an attitude matched by the music; the album is breezy collection of pop-country tunes, like a summer afternoon playlist from an imagined AM-radio station. As he told KCRW’s Jason Bentley, the songs were the result of a period of enforced leisure, the first time in eight years he had nothing on his calendar. It allowed him, he said, to explore  his adopted hometown  of Nashville, and hang out with local musicians and songwriters; the album is the result of those collaborations. They’d spend the first part of the week working on songs, the second half recording them.   It’s also something of a calling card for his studio, Easy Eye Sound, and the musicians he’s gathered around him: Nashville legends Dave Roe and David Ferguson (who co-produced); Bobby Wood and Gene Christman, part of the house band of  Memphis’ American Studios; and guitarists Mark Knopfler and Duane Eddy.

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              Pat McLaughlin (l) and Dan Auerbach performing for KCRW’s Apogee Sessions                         (photo: Brian Lowe)

But at Apogee, it was just Auerbach and Pat McLaughlin on acoustic guitar and mandolin. Seated on stage, they could have jut as easily been playing at the Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe as in Santa Monica. Loose and intimate, it’s an approach that showed off the songs’ craftsmanship, but also exposed their limitations. They’re catchy, but insubstantial; the less attention you pay to the them, the better they sound. The lyrics show off a puckish, Roger Miller styled humor, but like most jokes, you only need to hear them once. “You only got a couple of miles to go/if you’re trying to drive me insane,” he warns on the kicky “Shine On Me” (which misses Knopfler’s springy guitar), the chorus of the sprightly psychedelic stomp “Stand By My Girl,” admits “because she’ll kill me if I don’t.” But they’re performed with a sidelong charm and affection that makes it hard to dislike. It’s best to see Waiting on A Song as Auerbach’s busman’s holiday. 

 

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/0OSYZ7EMRs14RPvwowd13F

 

 

 

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About Steven Mirkin

Steven Mirkin’s diverse career has taken him from politics to pop culture to high art, offering him a front row seat to some of the most fascinating events and personalities of our time: writing speeches, fundraising appeals and campaign materials for Ed Koch, John Heinz and independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson; chronicling the punk/new wave scenes in New York and London; interviewing musicians such as Elton John, John Lydon and Buck Owens; profiling modern masters Julian Schnabel, Paul Schrader and Jonathan Safran Foer; and writing for TV shows including 21, The Chamber, Let's Make A Deal, and Rock Star: INXS. He currently edits Obitmagazine.com. View all posts by Steven Mirkin

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