Published July 28, 2006
On the surface, it seems like an evil idea: two cutish white kids from Akron, Ohio doing a six-song EP of covers of the greatest, hardest living, relatively unknown Mississippi bluesman, Junior Kimbrough. Even those of us who were fans of the Keys since they came to Iceland and ripped through an Airwaves set two years ago expected failure. Chulahoma is, instead, a crowning achievement of blues, rock, and, hell, Ohio. Kimbrough songs aren’t standard blues – the guitar work wanders, it doesn’t drive through the standard progression, and Kimbrough used to let his voice dance on top of the high end. You knew he wanted to get up and dance, that he was sweet inside, somewhere, under his gruff exterior. Dan Auerbach sings with more force, but somehow in exactly that I’m-ready-to-stop-the-bullshit-and-get-to-seducing singing. The thing with Kimbrough was that the microphone was something he seemed to think of as bullshit – some of the best lyrics were blurred in his Fat Possum recordings. Auerbach adds that touch of polish, both on vocals and guitar that allow these, the best blues songs in the genre, to get put on the shelf they deserve.
If you have the money, and you have access to a glass of whiskey, a woman, and a small amount of dance space, you have got to purchase this EP. BC