Music: Jack White- Blunderbuss
Joanne Stewart reviews the former White Stripe's debut solo album- and finds it to be almost as complex as the man himself.
by Joanne Stewart
Wednesday 2nd May 2012, 19:52 BST
Since The White Stripes's last album, 2007’s Icky Thump, Jack White has been somewhat musically promiscuous; writing and recording four albums with two different bands, all while producing and managing his record label Third Man Records. Oh, and he got married and divorced too. No biggie.
Perhaps then, it’s no surprise that Blunderbuss laments love and heartbreak. As expected, Jack White strays away from any saccharine drivel, instead choosing to spew out lyrics on how savage and heartless we women really can be.
Mostly accompanied by moody guitar riffs, there is a noticeable difference on this disc from White’s previous work- the extensive and distinctive presence of a Rhodes electronic piano. White’s fans are sure to notice the shift from thumping guitar solos to the slightly erratic focus on keys on the opening track ‘Missing Pieces,’ which sets the tone for the rest of the disc.
White even seems to have reduced the intensity of his guitar with tracks such as ‘Blunderbuss’ and ‘Love Interruption’ favouring acoustic over electric. It seems a somewhat shame that Blunderbuss loses the intense and cutting guitar arrangements that White is famous for delivering but White still manages to convey the same passion and angst.
Like White himself, this album is complicated. Tracks like ‘Sixteen Saltines’ and ‘Freedom at 21’, rich in bluesy guitar melodies and his trademark strong and aggressive vocals up where Icky Thump left off, whereas ‘I Guess I Should Go to Sleep’ veers towards sounding quasi-country, percussion ringing through a chorus of backing vocals and the occasional diddly-doo of a fiddle.
The ultimate track of Blunderbuss, ‘Take Me With You When You Go’ is a toe-tapping fusion of all these different influences and sounds, a musical concoction that weaves these diverging sounds and genres together to form something that sounds so cohesive.
What stops this album from being a schizophrenic wreck are the lyrics. Beautiful yet witty, White seems far too wise for his 36 years of age. “Cut off the bottoms of my feet/ make me walk on salt” might seem more fitting an image for a Saw film or in a Stephen King novel, but White’s raw vocal should prevent any vomming incidents from even the most squeamish.
Blunderbluss is a testament to White’s intelligence, eccentricity and overall brilliance. He’s not the same White Stripe whose thumping sound that you bopped along to while watching Kerrang! as a greasy pubescent teenager. However, just as White has grown and matured during the last several years, it is possible that his listeners (and you) have too. Here’s hoping that his newfound wisdom will stop him bringing out those ghastly red and black trousers again. A girl can hope.