Album review: Blunderbuss - Jack White (+video)

By Scott Kara

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Blunderbuss is 'better than anything Jack White has done before'. Photo / Supplied
Blunderbuss is 'better than anything Jack White has done before'. Photo / Supplied

It's remarkable Jack White has never released a solo album considering he's been playing and producing music since the mid-90s.

The White Stripes came first, then the Raconteurs and the darker, moodier Dead Weather, as well as a long list of production credits, most notably 2004's Van Lear Rose for old-time country belle Loretta Lynn.

He is a restless and adventurous musical soul. And there is also something very down-home about his music too.

Not that everything he's done has been good, with some of the White Stripes' latter-day music going down a cringey, self-indulgent road at times, but considering his prolific and adventurous output it's easy to bow down and worship at his feet.

It might take a little longer to realise the genius of his debut solo album Blunderbuss because it's a strange and often challenging record. Not strange in a weird, oddball way, but in its uniqueness.

There is the fiery spit and squall dynamic of the White Stripes on Sixteen Saltines (which starts like Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine), but really - and this is where White has excelled himself - he has created something entirely new and unlike anything he has come up with before.

For example, Blunderbuss starts like a 1970s Herbie Hancock jazz album with the beautifully incessant mix of Rhodes piano and drums on Missing Pieces.

Yet it is uniquely Jack White, from his sweet-cum-sneering voice to the dynamic drama of the music. The piano takes centre-stage here and it is more memorable than Jack's traditionally trusty guitar.

So, initially it's hard to get your head around, but as the songs become more familiar their magic is revealed.

Weep Themselves to Sleep is a striking centrepiece with its grand and elegant piano runs, dark chords, and a brief outburst of crackling guitar distortion. Then there's the slightly silly but fun hoot of I'm Shakin', the tough, thigh-slapping honky tonk blues of Trash Tongue Talker, and the simmering tranquillity of On and On and On.

Last track Take Me With You When You Go, with its wending, winding fiddle and clip-clopping piano, has a delightful spring in its step. But then halfway through, it speeds up (almost like the album has been turned up to 45rpm) into a wild psyche rock soul fervour for the record's maddest moment of all.

Lyrically he's at his cutting and often ruthless best too with lines like "You would sell your own mother out and then betray your brother with another hypocritical kiss". And better still are the sniping refrains of aching acoustic confessional Love Interruption where he sings, "I want love to roll me over slowly, stick a knife inside me and twist it all around".

Blunderbuss is better than anything White has done before, including the classic White Stripes' triple run of De Stijl, White Blood Cells and Elephant in the early 2000s.

Not to sound too grand, but Blunderbuss is a classic of our time - and in this day and age these sorts of records don't come around very often.

Stars: 5/5
Verdict: The former White Stripe's masterstroke.
Buy this album here

Watch the video for Love Interruption:


- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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