Hanni El Khatib teamed again with Dan Auerbach and the result this time is more fruitful than it was on ‘Head In The Dirt’ (2011).
1. Moonlight 2. Melt Me 3. The Teeth 4. Chasin' 5. Worship Song (No.2) 6. Mexico 7. Servant 8. All Black 9. Home 10. Dance Hall 11. Two Brothers
Release Date: January 2015 Label: Innovative Leisure Tracks To Notice: Moonlight, Mexico, Two Brothers
Hanni El Khatib‘s new album was in my list for a few weeks now and I had been saving it for when it’d be possible to have my full attention as a listener. Alas, the opening title track was starting to play right after anything before it was finished and it’s so interesting and catchy that I decided I shouldn’t wait any longer; and it feels I did well. His third album, titled ‘Moonlight‘, might be far from any kind of perfection but those forty-something minutes are nothing if not pleasant.
An easy comparison could be done with artists like Jack White or the Black Keys and the latter are far more than a simple name in the catalog of his influences. Black Keys‘ guitarist and vocalist, Dan Auerbach, teamed again with Hanni and the result this time is more fruitful than it was on ‘Head In The Dirt‘ (2011) which was also produced by the former. Listening to songs like ‘All Black‘, ‘Chasin’‘ or ‘Home‘ anyone the least familiar with the Ohio duo can sense their presence in the studio. I’m finding hard to tell whether Dan is really so influential, both as an artist and a producer, or if he’s deliberately guiding younger artists to sound so much like his band. Bobmino‘s latest album (‘Nomad‘, 2013) is another example of that.
Truth is, ‘Moonlight‘ is wider, musically, than a simple Black Keys rip off and it’d be unfair to stick only to the aforementioned songs and style. There’s a bit of the 60’s garage in most of the songs and a bit more on ‘Servant‘. It’s clearly a guitar album and drummer Ron Marinelli helps a lot in that and occasionally comes forward to build up the tempo. Then, right at the end, when one is expecting another song filled with rock and garage sounds like the previous ten, comes ‘Two Brothers‘ to flirt with a disco ball. A subtle guitar riff that is repeated all the way from the beginning, a bit of keyboards and more of hi-hat, make it feel totally out of place.
‘Two Brothers‘ is one of the best songs in ‘Moonlight‘, but it’s far from the album’s style. It’s also a very interesting part that shows us another side of Californian’s music. His cooperation with Dan resulted in two really nice albums indeed, but if something should change in Hanni‘s next release, I’d go for the guy in the producer’s seat. Being inspired and influenced by such artists is fair, most are, but becoming the shadow or a beautifully designed miniature of them is something that should best be avoided. This is little issue is just one part of the album though and with a few more great songs like ‘Moonlight‘ it could be easily set aside.