Dan Auerbach: Waiting on a Song

The consistently working musician delivers his own version of a vacation on a set of tunes that pays homage to Nashville and opens up a bright road ahead.

Dan Auerbach

Waiting on a Song

Label: Easy Eye Sound
US Release Date: 2017-06-02
UK Release Date: 2017-06-02

Since the Black Keys’ dropped their latest record, 2014’s Turn Blue, Dan Auerbach has been busy. In addition to a world tour the Keys’ took into early 2015, he followed that #1 album with a side project in the Arcs’ Yours, Dreamily. Also, he has steadily worked as a producer and collaborator on a number of projects: Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence, Nikki Lane’s All or Nothin, Cage the Elephant’s Tell Me I’m Pretty, and most recently with Chrissie Hynde on the Pretenders’ return Alone in 2016. Behind that work, he put together a brisk and sweet set of summery tunes with collaborators for his second solo album, Waiting on a Song.

Together with John Prine, Duane Eddy, David “Fergie” Ferguson, and Mark Knopfler, Waiting on a Song is equally rooted in a 1970s sound and his influences in Nashville, as well as by Auerbach’s extensive career and projects. The album also initiates his recently created label Easy Eye Sound, based out of the same named studio he owns and records at in Nashville. A “Nashville sound” is hard to miss on Waiting on a Song, from the collaborators and friends that notably dropped into Auerbach’s studio to the mood generated by the album’s tracks.

When Auerbach put out his debut solo record nearly eight years ago, Keep It Hid, his work ethic and productively was already noteworthy, particularly given the rise in status the Black Keys enjoyed with their 2008 release Attack and Release. But Keep It Hid built on the style of Attack and Release, while Waiting on a Song emphasizes smoother qualities (a “Nashville sound”) when it links to the pop qualities that flowed on Turn Blue. Where the most recent Keys album was also dark and moody, Waiting on a Song is bright and looking ahead in its revelry of Nashville and Auerbach’s influences.

Notably divergent even from the more recent Arcs side-project, Auerbach’s voice and guitar work shine in the bright atmosphere depicted throughout Waiting on a Song. Each of Auerbach’s collaborators infused the songs they appear on with their unique styles, such as “Shine on Me,” which features the distinctive guitar and style of Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler. John Prine’s presence on the title track is evident, too, and it’s a pleasant start that sets this album apart from Auerbach’s recent output as a performer and lead artist. If any track could be linked to either the Arcs’ album or the Keys, it's “King of a One Horse Town". Along with the deeper voice Auerbach has sung with on previous albums, there's an orchestral component that creates a unique atmosphere at the midpoint of the album overall.

The second half of the album dives deeper into the positivity Auerbach portrays in his ode to Nashville and this debut for his own label. “Never In My Wildest Dreams” is folksy, jazzy, and hopeful, slow in its start, but bolder as it progresses and Auerbach’s singing is joyful in a noticeable cadence that matches the music and its arrangement. A twangy, loose guitar permeates “Cherry Bomb", and the song also carries a deliberate vocal delivery.

Auerbach’s skill as a performer, arranger, writer, and producer, is that he maintains a stylistic presence from track to track on the albums he works, and with each song on Waiting on a Song there are purposeful shifts in tone that still carry the album’s mood and loose quality. Upon initial listen there are jarring qualities to some of the shifts, such as from “Cherry Bomb” to “Stand By My Girl", but that fades upon deserved multiple listens, and the style throughout the album is enjoyably present.

So much of the roll out for Waiting on a Song built up its status debuting Auerbach’s studio in Nashville and celebrating the community of performing and collaborators he enjoys in his new hometown (since moving from Akron, Ohio, in 2010). Celebrating his influences and paying homage are admirable and generate a joyous, entertaining album, but it ends too quickly. At a short (comparatively) 33 minutes, this album doesn't slow down at any point, but then it's over too quickly. Perhaps that’s a good set-up to inspire multiple listens or designed to leave you listening for more, and both happened to me.

Dan Auerbach’s second studio album Waiting on a Song is an ode to the community he’s surrounded himself in Nashville, as well as a nice future looking set of songs. The album’s overall style and mood are best depicted in its final track, “Show Me". There’s an element of conclusion and sense that the song was written for driving away after good times. Auerbach’s career is full, and his work is constant, aspects seeming to deserve a vacation. Waiting On a Song represents that vacation: he’s having fun with friends, playing spontaneous, and performing tunes that pay ode to a “Nashville sound” and his myriad influences.





Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

Detroit's Motown Records will forever be important as both a hit factory and an African American-owned label that achieved massive mainstream success and influence. We select our 25 favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America".


The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?


Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.


Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.


Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.


Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.


Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.


Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.


Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.


Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.