From former upholsterer to blues-rock virtuoso, the one and only Jack White has paved a successful road for himself. Having originally made history with two-piece rock group the White Stripes, White has since embarked on a solo journey with the long-anticipated Blunderbuss, released today.
For many of us, our introduction to Jack White’s raw and ferocious guitar playing was the White Stripes’ 2001 hit single, “Fell in Love with a Girl.” Now, White has moved on from his two-piece days, creating other blues-rock groups The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs, while making time for himself on this solo debut.
Single “Sixteen Saltines” could be the ballsier older brother to the White Stripes’ “Hardest Button to Button.” Staccato-heavy riffs clash between talk-box guitar melodies, an incredible sound that grows with intensity until the very end. “Who’s jealous?” repeats White frantically, the words searching for an answer within an arsenal of roaring cymbals and guitars. There’s a reason why “Sixteen Saltines” was one of the album’s singles. It’s an indicator of White’s never-ending creativity, providing listeners with screeching riffs that are sure to be imitated by blues-rock wannabes.
White can shift from in-your-face guitar madman to relaxed and composed crooner. Take “Love Interruption” for example: driven by a sinister acoustic guitar riff and vocal harmonies between White and his female accomplice Ruby Amanfu, the song is an ode to blues-folk love songs. “I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt or interrupt me, anymore.” It starts off as dispirited; lone lover White searching for happiness externally and realizing that the answer to his problems has been with him all along. Listeners will empathize with White because he’s showing so many sides. Anger, sadness and fear — you’re getting all of the White you can handle.
The songs are refreshing and reassuring, reminding listeners of why they fell in love with White in the first place. He’s still got a bag of lyrical and guitar tricks for even the most devoted White fan, keeping listeners in a comfort zone until the end of the album. This is where the artist shows that he’s comfortable in more genres than just blues. Jazz-tinged country songs “I Guess I Should Go to Sleep,” and “On and On and On” move with a fluid spaciness, the absolute opposite of what listeners were introduced to at the beginning of the album. But it works well, and White is fearless in unfamiliar territory. He allows the songs to just ride and crescendo before bringing in an assortment of explosive guitar licks.
Blunderbuss is a culmination of all White has done. It has traces from all of White’s musical efforts, which is why it could not easily be dubbed merely a Dead Weather album or a White Stripes album. White is confident in his experimentation, and although it may not be completely cohesive from beginning to end, it shows that the guitarist still has plenty of musical ideas to share.
Printed on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 as: White releases new solo work