When Dan Auerbach released his debut solo album Keep It Hid in 2009, the Black Keys were on the verge of superstardom; so his solo album was a busman's holiday, not the start of a career. Waiting on a Song, its 2017 sequel, arrives in the midst of an extended hiatus from the Black Keys, who took a breather after a run of blockbusters that coincided with Auerbach establishing himself as a producer of note. On these extracurricular projects, Auerbach broadened his sonic palette, working with everybody from Americana stalwart Ray LaMontagne to post-modern noir diva Lana Del Rey, and he brings this new bag of tricks to Waiting on a Song. Having more in common with the groovy classic soul moves of his 2015 side project the Arcs than the heavy-footed stomp of the Black Keys, Waiting on a Song's heart lies in the glimmering productions of Jeff Lynne in the late '80s. "Shine on Me" glistens like an outtake from the Traveling Wilburys, and it's not an isolated incident. Auerbach keeps circling back to this bright, cheerful sound, accentuating it with elements of Memphis soul and an undercurrent of classically constructed Americana. The title Waiting on a Song hints at such craftsmanship, and it was co-written by John Prine and Pat McLaughlin, whose presence suggests that Auerbach is adding "singer/songwriter" to his impressive résumé. The thing about this album is, it shows the power of craft across the board: Auerbach's become a vivid, imaginative producer and now he's writing songs to match.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine