on 23 April 2012
Last year Jack White suffered two break ups, the first being the break up of his band The White Stripes who after six albums called it a day, the second was the breakup of his marriage to Karen Elson. So it's fair to say Jack White might have a few things he might want to get off his chest and what better way than to it by releasing his first solo album the wonderful "Blunderbuss" Which is an album of many varying styles and finds one of the most gifted guitarists of his generation on great form throughout.
Anybody who misses The White Stripes will be delighted with the opening combo of "Missing Pieces" and "Sixteen Saltines". Indeed the opening and middle parts of "Missing Pieces" sounds reminiscent of "Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground" and has rich sounding organ and a familiar Jack White solo. "Sixteen Saltines" is the closest to a White Stripes song can be without the irreplaceable Meg White. There's a brilliant cover of the Little Wilie John (written by Rudy Toombs) song "I'm Shakin'" which has White raising his vocal range and is accompanied by excellent background vocals and keeps true to its 1960 roots.
The title track itself is a wonderful low key affair with a White's voice providing the emotion for the song itself as he sings over an organ and strings. On first single "Love Interruption" White's is brilliantly backed up by Ruby Amanfu on backing vocals. On the song "Freedom at 21" White waxes lyrically and features a trademark Jack White riff and solo. The final track on the album "Take Me with you When You Go" which starts out tame enough before changing pace at past the two minute mark into a frenzied assault of fast paced vocals, it's a great way to close out a superb debut album.
Yes The White Stripes are missed big time and there is no way Jack White could create the on stage/studio chemistry that he had with Meg White with anyone else but on his first solo album White has come up trumps delivering an album full of wonderfully wired sounding songs with heartfelt lyrics that reflect his state of mind coming off a tough year personally. Just for good measure his ex-wife Karen Elson provides backing vocals on the album, it also features the drumming of Carla Azar from the band Autolux. "Blunderbuss" is an album that deserves repeated listens and shows even on his own White can deliver music that is essential listening.
What is it about Jack White? He blazes a trail where others follow, he captures the moment and he is always ten yards in the lead. On "Blunderbuss" his debut solo album all elements of White's recent past are to found with recognizable snatches of the White Stripes, The Raconteurs and his slightly less successful recent outing The Dead Weather. But White is not standing still, far from it since "Blunderbuss" is an incredibly varied album ranging from huge riff heavy hard rock anthems like "Sixteen Saltines" to the breezy jazzy pop of "Hip (eponymous) poor boy". More than this like Dylan's "Blood on tracks" the themes of break up and divorce runs through this album like a fault line and informs the lyrical preoccupations of many of the songs.
It is true that White's split with British model Karen Elson seems amicable enough with the couple holding a party to celebrate the "making and breaking of the sacred union of marriage," and indeed Elson does some background vocals on three of the songs here. Yet in the first half of "Blunderbuss" in particular White does rally against unhappy domestic predicaments, collapsing relationships and at one point the perfidy of women. You sense as the Americans politely put it that he has "issues" some of which are dramatically captured in the opener "Missing Pieces". While it is possibly the most White Stripeish song on the album its also has a strong confessional bent as White at one point muses that "When someone tells you they can't live without you, they ain't lying/ They'll take pieces of you and walk away." albeit within the confines of a killer song exemplifying him at his absolute best. On "Freedom at 21" it gets even nastier with a greasy rolling riff which he must have held back from the Raconteurs and a rally against internet trolling where he stingily rebukes the perpetrator with the words "she don't care what kind of wounds she's inflicted on me/ she don't care what color bruises that she is leaving on me". Its not all bitter and twisted however, far from it. The lovely title track "Blunderbuss" is almost a Robert Plant like lament underpinned by a wordy story, gorgeous piano lines and violins which conjure up echoes of another Dylan album namely "Desire". "Hypocritical kiss" is one of the best songs White has written in quite a time and it rolls along underpinned by strong melodic piano lines and shows his complete mastery as a songwriter. It wouldn't be Jack White however without a nice blast of garage rock and nod to the Blasters cover of the Little Willie John standard "I'm Shakin" is completely nailed. Equally "Trash Tongue Talker" whilst breaking no new ground is a beautifully dismissive song dripping venom and owing a large debt to James Booker. Other highlights include the dark acoustic ballad `Love Interruption' which combines White on a husky duet with Ruby Amanfu. Perhaps the two most distinct songs are kept until last not least the Beatles like dark pop of the brilliant "On and On" and finally the very funky "Take me with you when you go" which at the songs mid point breaks out in a pulsating sing-along and a fitting conclusion to an excellent album.
Uncut has recently proclaimed "Blunderbuss" to be the obvious successor to "Get behind me Satan" the White Stripes fifth album and it is true that piano dominates as much as guitar on this album. White has also in an interview within the same magazine played down the confessional element to the album but he can be a contradictory cuss who regularly warns that many of his public statements are pure invention. What is certain is that "Blunderbuss" is a sure fire success, an album which is surly, aggressive yet calm and likeable in equal measures. White has bestrode the music scene like a colossus over the past ten years and the truly excellent "Blunderbuss" will reinforce this benevolent dictatorship.
I approach this album from an unusual standpoint: I'm not familiar with any of Jack White's earlier output. Consequently, the other reviews on here, nearly all of which have been written in the light of his past, make fascinting reading for someone who feels as if he's just emerged from the kingdom of the deaf.
Well, I like this album a lot. I think it lacks a truly outstanding track, but is consistently very good. What strikes me most about White is his penchant for a play on words, plus the strong rhythms in his lyrics. The latter possesses the elegance, clarity and occasional beauty that is missing from rap music. 'Trash Tongue Talker' bears a vague resemblance to the form Chuck Berry, who gave rock and roll its poetry, used. Meanwhile, as if to emphasise the 'Hip (Eponymous)' joke, the insert contains a photo of hippos. With 'Love Interruption', White makes much of grouping words that end 'upt'. Partly because of this, his lyrics, like those of many other songwriters are somewhat oblique and impressionistic rather than direct.
Even so, you get the point: most of these tracks have a bitter, waspish aura. I saw his performances of 'Sixteen Saltines' and 'Hip...' on 'Later with Jools Holland' last Friday and he played and sang like a man with a lot to get off his chest. The former, however, is the most abrasive recording on an album that comes in several shades of belligerence. It also contains some brazen innuendo: 'She's got a pink mailbox that she puts out front'. Most moving track? For me, 'On and On and On', in terms of style at least, quite beautiful.
I don't agree with the 'finest guitarist' eulogies. He's good, in the same way dozens of guitarists are. If anything, the inspired piano parts are more impressive. 'Blunderbuss' does, however, interest me in his back catalogue.
on 6 June 2014
I LOVE this record. What a great great album it is...it sounds like the musings of a mad musical genius being alowed to just go for it... It reminds me of McCartneys output after the Beatles, McCartney, Ram and Wings' Wild Life... They all showcased McCartney just going nuts and creating some incredible things, often all on his own.
And that's what this record has, whether he succeeds or fails, a real musicality remains regardless... even on songs you might not like, there's something to enjoy... a solo, a keys riff, a bass line... something that makes you listen again. And it has a real sense of expression and fun...
It's a brilliant brilliant record. A brilliant artistic snap shot of man in transition and feeling a new found freedom to create.
on 23 April 2012
The best lp he's been involved with since Icky Thump (Rome excepted). Interesting, witty songs with an open, minimal musical palette I'd feared he'd abandoned. Mr White remains the finest blues guitarist of his age, and now stakes his claim as our most unlikely pop star. Bonkers but brilliant.
on 13 February 2013
I'm listening to this as a I review it. I've had this album a while but after a week I stopped listening to it. Standout songs: Missing Pieces, Love Interruption, I'm Shakin' and Take Me With You When You Go. When I first bought it my foot was tapping along a lot. Now I think it sounds distinctly average. Not offensive, just average. I'm a big White Stripes fan and also like The Ranconteurs. Im comparison, the lyrics do not do much for me. Saying that it is quite pleasant background music and I really like the contribution of Ruby Amanfu.
Second favourite album of 2012 and so very very close to being first. Lots of great tracks on this album and they work together too. Jack clearly has a few 'women ishoos', but considering his divorce and his band split with Meg that's not too surprising. If you liked the White Stripes or the Raconteurs you should definitely get this. If you don't, give it a try, he might surprise you.
on 24 April 2012
This is a remarkably good album from Jack White. Every song is an adventure in rock, blues, grunge, rhythm, balladry, and performance. The breadth and versatility of the material is impressive. This album will surely convince a lot of people that there is productive life to be had after the White Stripes and that it's worth living. Exquisite, infectious, inventive, and surely one of the best albums of the year. Highly recommended.
on 30 June 2012
Jack white is a guitar god! I was so gutted when the White Stripes went their seperate ways, but the blow was soften with the news of his solo album! I love jack white and this album was no disappointment! I reccomend to any White Strips fans! Jack White is a legend and I wait with anticipation for a second album to be released.
on 5 January 2013
So... Jack White's solo effort. Crap, right? Disappointing, eh?
Well, not quite. White has well and truly caught the bus, plane and automobile with his first genuine (ha!) solo effort. He redefines his musical category about 8 times on this new effort, changing from panting rock to country folk, to Cole Porterish whit, to the marvel of the title track. He may be a guitar God who loves the blues, sings too high (like an anemic Robert Plant, at worst), but he one thing above all - original.
In these times, it is hard to be original. So much dross around, so many people with no ears, in the business and in the audience. Yet every generation throws a hero up the pop charts, as the saying goes, and White is one of ours. Favourties on this record, obviously a break up album as other reviewers noticed, are Love Interruption (wonderful duet), Blunderbus, I'm Shakin, - on reflection, this is one to listen to straight through. No downtime, no kidding.
CD of 2012 or thereabouts.