Jack White – Blunderbuss LP
Honestly, who doesn’t know Jack White? Having created some of the most original rock music of the last 15 years – mainly with The White Stripes but also later projects, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather – he’s become known as one of the most talented and unique musicians of a generation. The southern gothic blood and tar of White Stripes costumes and wistful look in his eyes has always made him seem like some kind of legofied character from a Tim Burton movie, so it seems quite apt that White cites death as the inspiration behind Blunderbuss, his debut album as a solo artist – something of a departure from the days of Lego-made music videos with the Stripes.
Simply put, Blunderbuss is a veritable feast of talent, showcasing a little bit of everything that makes White great. That unmistakable high-pitched vocal greets you like an old friend on ‘Missing Pieces’, ‘Sixteen Saltines’ demonstrates the call-and-answer guitar sound for which White is famed and ‘I’m Shakin’’ is probably the most danceable song he’s ever written – a slab of good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n’ roll nostalgia featuring the line “I’m bo-diddly”; he might as well burst into ‘Rock Around the Clock’ while he’s at it!
However, for all the fun-and-games moments and talented guitar work, it is during its more introverted moments that Blunderbuss reveals its highlights. ‘Love Interruption’ has been knocking about for ages now, yet still the fragility exposed in White’s voice by the stripped back arrangement remains startling. This emotional profundity is replicated on the album’s title track, a piano-laden, folksy number portraying White as a melancholic balladeer, whilst the keys are again brought to the fore on the simply joyous ‘Hip (Eponymous) Poor Baby’, which sounds a bit like something Willy Wonka would put on during his down time.
‘Weep Themselves to Sleep’ is possibly the standout track of the album – intense, tormenting and begging to soundtrack some sort of vengeful murder scene at a black and white cinema; I mentioned Willy Wonka previously, this would be more suited to Sweeney Todd.
Blunderbuss is certainly more evolution than revolution in terms of Jack White’s sound, but the worst thing you can say about that is that its most familiar feature is its brilliance. What sets White apart from his peers is that the passion he brings to his work appears tangible on every song – perhaps best demonstrated on here by the intense vocal performance on ‘Freedom at 21’. There’s a moment during ‘Blunderbuss’ where White sings, “you took me to a public place, to quietly blend into.” On the evidence of this album, he needn’t worry about that happening any time soon.
Words by Lewis Parker.