A CD review of "Locked Down," a stunning new album from Dr. John, produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach. Other CDs released on or about April 3 include "Changed," by Rascal Flatts; "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," by Nicki Minaj; and "My Head is an Animal," by Of Monsters and Men.
Dr. John, ‘Locked Down’ (Nonesuch)
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. And, indeed, one of the most touching songs is a father’s apologia, “My Children, My Angels,” that will cut to the heart of any parent with grown kids. But there’s a boiling, Dylanesque social subtext here, too, about the blizzard of lies surrounding us and it’s reinforced by the dark, industrial grind of the production by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach.
“Ain’t no age of innocence, ladies and gents,” wails Dr. John on the Afro-poppish “Ice Age,” then goes on to rhyme KKK with CIA. “Revolution,” driven by popping baritone saxophone, refers to the “blind eyes of justice, deaf ears of power” (anyone listening over at the Supreme Court?); the reggae-ish “Kingdom of Izzness” laments the half-truths that make “history a mystery of the chosen few”; and the slinky hoodoo “You lie” comes right out and says what so many have been muttering under their breath: “In hell, Satan’s go-getter, you lie when the truth sounds better.”
In all this protest, there’s still room for a love song (“Getaway”) and the good doctor closes on a sweet spiritual note, thanking the Lord for the breath he’s been given. I’ll second that. Great — and timely — music.
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Paul de Barros, Seattle Times music critic
Other new releases
Rascal Flatts, “Changed” (Big Machine)
Nicki Minaj, “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” (Republic)
Of Monsters and Men, “My Head is an Animal” (Republic)