Dr. John's "Locked Down" Out Now: "Magical" (LA Times), "Stunning" (Seattle Times) "Tour de Force" (Sunday Times)
Locked Down, the new album from storied musician and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dr. John—Mac Rebennack—is out today CD and digitally on Nonesuch Records, with the vinyl to follow on Record Store Day, April 21. The album, produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, is an entirely new approach for the iconic Dr. John, featuring as it does his collaboration with Auerbach and a band of young musicians Auerbach hand-picked to make Locked Down at his Nashville studio. The album is available on CD and as 320 kbps MP3 FLAC lossless files in the Nonesuch Store, where you can pre-order the vinyl. The album is also available at iTunes and Amazon. Listen to Locked Down streaming in full all week via MSN Music.
Dr. John, Dan Auerbach, and the band will be performing the album's first single, "Revolution," as musical guests on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon tonight. Tune in to NBC or set your DVRs for tonight starting at 12:35 AM ET. (You can download the album track for free all this week at iTunes.) They'll all be performing music from the album this Thursday through Saturday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) for the second of three weekends in Dr. John's residency there. We're giving away tickets to Friday night's show via the Nonesuch Facebook page. Check it out and enter to win at Facebook.com/NonesuchRecords.
Dr. John and the new album were featured on NPR's Morning Edition this morning, which looks at the record's more personal side. "The album is the brainchild of 33-year-old musician and producer Dan Auerbach," says NPR's David Greene. "Auerbach says Dr. John has never written something so personal—'and I really pushed him to go there,' he adds. 'And he did. And I think he felt really good about it.'" Hear what Dr. John has to say in the Morning Edition piece at npr.org.
Locked Down received early critical praise last week, earning five stars in the Guardian and four stars in the Independent, Times of London, Rolling Stone, MOJO, and the New York Daily News. The accolades continue to come in from both sides of the Atlantic.
The Los Angeles Times gives Locked Down a perfect four out of four stars. The album "is one of the best of his career," writes Times reviewer Randall Roberts. "As Bob Dylan did with Time Out of Mind and Tom Waits did last year with Bad as Me, Dr. John does here ... creating something magical, the embodiment of everything he’s done but pushed in a clear new direction."
Dr. John "has found remarkable rejuvenation on Locked Down,” Roberts goes on to say. "This is due in no small part to Auerbach, who has merged the man with the myth by directing the project, compiling the band, playing guitar and setting a course. As producer, Auerbach gathered the musicians, and what he came up with is stunning."
Read the complete album review at latimes.com.
The album is today's Music Pick from The New Yorker. "Dr. John has spent more than three decades illuminating the connections—and the distinctions—between rock, pop, funk, jazz, and traditional New Orleans music, but his finest albums have combined all of them," writes The New Yorker, as on Locked Down. "At moments, Dr. John sounds like he’s carrying the torch for Captain Beefheart; elsewhere, the record steers into funkier territory. It’s solid, committed work, with no shortage of passion or innovation." Read more at newyorker.com.
The Boston Globe says Locked Down "is the closest he has come to making a masterpiece in a very long time." Reviewer James Reed explains: "Aware of what Dr. John has already accomplished, Auerbach challenged him to push forward ... Locked Down is a not a portrait of the lion in winter. It’s better than that. It’s Dr. John in full splendor." Read the complete review at boston.com.
In Chicago, WBEZ's Jim DeRogatis, co-host of Sound Opinions, gives the album a perfect four out of four stars as well, crediting Auerbach with "letting a wonderful mix of tribal African drums and timeless blues-rock rhythms fuel a wonderfully spicy, intoxicating and timeless gumbo that is as brilliant and thoroughly otherworldly as anything this musical treasure ever has given us." Read more at wbez.org.
DeRogatis's Sound Opinions co-host Greg Kot gives the album three-and-a-half out of four stars in the Chicago Tribune. "The legendary pianist sounds reinvigorated on Locked Down, in part because he’s not plugging into a formula, but animating it with some feisty new sidemen," says Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot. "Auerbach’s terse, reverb-encrusted guitar and the studio band he assembled for this project play vital roles, particularly drummer Max Weissenfeldt and bassist Nick Movshon." Kot concludes: "It’s Dr. John’s world, in all its voodoo inscrutability, rediscovered." Read the review at chicagotribune.com.
"The prince of swamp funk declares a personal storyline for this stunning new album—a reconciliation of his public persona, the master of juju and jive, Dr. John, with his personal self, Mac Rebennack," raves Seattle Times music critic Paul de Barros. "Great—and timely—music." Read the review at seattletimes.nwsource.com.
The Lexington Herald Leader music writer Walter Tunis makes the album his Critic's Pick, finding it both true to the inimitable spirit of Dr. John and something new, given the input from producer Dan Auerbach. "True to form, as soon as the good doctor's new album Locked Down kicks in, that swampy, humid Crescent City mischief—and all the otherworldly accents accompanying it—surfaces like a séance," Tunis writes. "Obviously versed (and maybe even raised) on the more ominous textures of Rebennack's music, Auerbach helps design tunes that ignite a voodoo spark without forcing the flame."
For all of the contributions from Auerbach and the band, however, "none of this would matter if Rebennack, 71, still didn't have the blues/funk goods and honest New Orleans juju to pull off something as earnestly homegrown as Locked Down," Tunis asserts. "The music may have a retro feel upon first listen. But with Auerbach's help, Locked Down emerges as the sound of Dr. John grooving very much in the moment."
Read the complete review at kentucky.com.
In the UK, where the album was release yesterday, the Sunday Express gives the album a perfect five out of five stars. Locked Down "is an album fizzing with youthful energy and quirky detail," writes reviewer Martin Townsend. "[T]his is Dr John’s voodoo blues turned up to 11." Read more at express.co.uk.
The Independent on Sunday and The Observer both name Locked Down Album of the Week and give it four stars. It's "a thoroughly great record that adds punch and groove to Rebennack's humid party music," writes The Observer's Kitty Empire. "Black Keys fans coming to this record have a few 'a-ha' moments in store when they realise where some of Auerbach's stylings have come from. Dr John fans, meanwhile, may find that this record—made in Nashville with a boy from Ohio—adds yet another plume to his ornate headdress." Read the review at guardian.co.uk.
The Financial Times gives the album another four stars. "Afro-Latin percussion patters alongside rock drumming, horns give the songs a rich tang, an organ shimmers, backing vocalists sing soulful choruses," writes reviewer Ludovic Hunter-Tilney. "Auerbach vamps away on guitar with noodling solos and strutting riffs while the drawling Dr John, 71, sounds like he’s having a blast revisiting his Night Tripper medicine-man routine." Read the review at ft.com.
The Sunday Times of London's Dan Cairns finds Locked Down to be Dr. John's "best in years, a roiling, swampy, polemical tour de force that both rolls back time ... and locates the New Orleans legend firmly in the present."
Drowned In Sound gives the album an eight out of ten. Locked Down "admirably manages to maximise the drive and skills of both Rebennack and Auerbach (as well as the musicians on display who may be young, but lack nothing in soul, flair and intelligence) towards the creation of something profound and memorable," writes reviewer David Edwards. "A lean, bare-chested and sweat-bathed beast of an album; it rattles along with energy, mystery, swirling swamp-mist and a delectable gumbo of cultural influences and razor-sliced spice. Most impressively of all, it comfortably lives up to the promise that Auerbach apparently made to the Doctor that he would help him craft 'the best record you’ve made in a long time.'" Read the complete review at drownedinsound.com.