Review: Jack White, Blunderbuss

As if fronting – and, let’s face it, being the only one with any discernible talent in –  The White Stripes, one of the most successful rock bands of recent years as well as writing a James Bond theme tune while also writing, producing and performing with The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather wasn’t taking up enough of his time, Jack White released his first fully solo album, Blunderbuss, this month.

The album opens with ‘Missing Pieces’, which sounds like a typical White Stripes number, but then you realise that this album probably will sound just like one of their albums, as he was the mastermind behind them. It’s interesting though to hear how he arranges songs with a full band behind him all playing his compositions.

The album explodes with a visceral whoop on track two, ‘Sixteen Salteens’ which is a rage-fuelled, riff heavy track. From here we drift in and out of varying degrees of hard rock songs and slower paced, jazz numbers like ‘Love Interruption’, which is a beautiful, lilting love song describing the all-consuming feelings that love inflicts on a person.

Throughout the album, no matter whether he’s freaking out and screaming or being restrained and melodic, the thread that holds this album together is his amazing ability to craft a song which is rooted in the blues. There is a certain feeling of despair and loss in the lyrics of this song perfectly captured in his vulnerable vocal style.

There are  a lot of similarities between songs on this album and some on any of his previous outings with his bands; ‘Missing Pieces’ could be off an early White Stripes album and ‘Weep Themselves To Sleep’ sounds like ‘Carolina Drama’,  the closing track on The Raconteurs’ ‘Consolers Of The Lonely’. Meaning that the stand out songs are mainly the slower, bluesier numbers.

But there are a couple of up-tempo songs that buck the trend and, as such, stand out in a refreshing way. For example; ‘Trash Tongue Talker’ is a rag time, piano-lead song which has a really interesting piano riff after the choruses. But the big surprise is ‘I’m Shakin” which has an infectious groove and guitar riff with  soul backing vocals and hand claps. It really showcases White’s modern stance on blues. It also includes the oddest delivery of the word ‘nervous’ (noivuss) I’ve heard since Laurel and Hardy!

Overall this an album that fans of White’s other bands will really get their teeth into, but may also attract a newer audience through the more melodic numbers. This is the first ‘new’ album I have bought in a long time and has proved to me that there are still some artists out there among the sea of TV talent show winners, hip hop/r&b artists and bland pop rock bands who really do make music that can engage with an audience on more than a superficial level.

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