hill country

Dan Auerbach poses with the gem he used to record much of Delta Kream: a Kawai Kingston S4T once owned by raw blues slide master Hound Dog Taylor. Note Taylor's name on the headstock, courtesy of the Dog himself, via a plastic-label punch.

Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins

On Delta Kream, the Black Keys and veteran slide master Kenny Brown dig deep to honor R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough—"two of the most important American musicians that ever were."

There's no more biblical—New Testament, of course—introduction to the raucous, bouncing, mesmeric sound of North Mississippi hill country blues than the new Black Keys album, Delta Kream. It's essentially the agrestic subgenre's greatest hits: a collection of ripe corpuscles from the catalogs of R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Ranie Burnette, Big Joe Williams, and Fred McDowell, plucked straight from the music's thumping heart—as chiseled into its core DNA as the faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln are into the granite of Mt. Rushmore.

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