Jack White trades in his White Stripes for a solo career in his debut album Blunderbuss
. The lead singer and guitarist for the White Stripes, Raconteurs and Dead Weather has broken free of his bandmates’ influences to create a record that is entirely his own. White’s solo endeavor does not identify with a single genre of music, and the fruit of his labor satisfying, though we have to wonder what was keeping this folksy, lyrical White at bay for so long.
appeases fans of the defunct White Stripes with familiar hard rock melodies in tracks “Missing Pieces” and “Sixteen Saltines,” the second single off the album. The song I’m singing all day long, however, is the album’s first single, “Love Interruption.” It’s approachable melodies and instrumentals are fodder for both the shower singer and the teenage garage musician. White also makes good use of an acoustic coffee house sound and backup vocals by Ruby Amanfu of Nashville duo Sam and Ruby.
Many artists tend to let the in-between tracks slump, but nobody sinks as far as White in the disappointing title track “Blunderbuss.” The song is sleepy, and the musical arrangement feels simple at best with a repetitive piano line and only occasional percussion.The track’s one saving grace is that its lyrics are highly relatable and showcases White’s insight, such as when he says “doing what two people need is rarely on the menu.”
But wait, there’s more! More bad news, as evidenced by the songs “Hypocritical Kiss” and “Trash Tongue Talker.” “Kiss” is simply so forgettable that I don’t remember why I hate it, and “Talker” becomes dreadful after listening to the boring bass line for more than a minute.
But just when I’m about to stop listening, Blunderbuss
gets right back on track with “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy,” which counters some of the more aggressive songs on the album with a bit of lighthearted relief. The track is silly and retro, but the lyrics in “Poor Boy” are a clear criticism of White’s ex-bandmate and ex-wife Meg.
The closing number, “Take Me with You When You Go,” is a mind-blowing piece that unites White’s blues and folk explorations with his traditional aggressive rock side during another plea to Meg White. The track starts light and bouncy featuring the album’s characteristic female backup vocals, but halfway through the song a crunchy electric guitar riff segways into a frenetic verse more reminiscent of the White Stripes. By the end of it, you don’t doubt for a second that White knew what he was doing with Blunderbuss the entire time — even in spite of “Hypocritical Kiss” and “Trash Tongue Talker.”
White’s soul-folk-blues-rock blend, so familiar yet unique from his collaborative works, is fresh and exciting. To be fair, the album may be too erratic and genre bending for generic pop lovers, but fans of The Black Keys and Bob Dylan will feel at home with the album, and followers from the White Stripes and the Raconteurs can ease gradually and happily into the expanded blues and folk arrangements. When White said a seven nation army couldn’t hold him back, he was right.
— Contact Ian Trutt.