Meet the next incarnation of rock guitarist Jack White: a.k.a., himself.
Blunderbuss, the much-anticipated solo release from ex-White-Stripe Jack White (due April 24), sizzles and crackles with all the raw emotion, lo-fi goodness, musical imperfections and overall creative genius that initially drew us to Jack White when he was one-half of the White Stripes—except now White takes center stage, as opposed to blending into another band expression (as with his other bands The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather). Love it or hate it—this album is pure Jack White, so he alone gets the credit, or the blame, according to your perspective.
Besides being known as one of the premier rock guitarists of our day, Jack White is also known for his contradictions—and thematically and lyrically, Blunderbuss presents no exception to that rule. To be specific—White seems to have a thing for jamming with his ex-wives. Meg White (the other White Stripe) continued to play with Jack for years after their divorce, as Jack referred to her from then on as his “sister.” In this case, recently coming off another divorce, Jack has filled this record with a lyrical hodgepodge of relationships-suck rhetoric—while newly-estranged ex-wife Karen Elson covers the BGVs on several tracks. Umm….???
Contradictions aside, the one consistent thing that Jack White delivers on Blunderbuss is outstanding, no-frills rock and roll. Oh—except for the country/folk vibe. Wait—another contradiction?
Never afraid to experiment, Jack White has added to his palate yet again. Yes, there are the bleeding-finger guitar moments on songs like “Sixteen Saltines” and “Freedom At 21;” but the title track “Blunderbuss” includes an unlikely instrument—is that steel guitar? A violin makes an appearance once or twice, and occasionally the detuned piano sounds like it came straight out of a nineteenth century saloon. Even so, don’t be fooled. This is a rock album, y’all—and the occasional country/folk elements don’t deter from that.
The truth is, inconsistency is part of Jack White’s shtick, and he wouldn’t be Jack White without it. It’s part of what makes his music so accessible—because we are all inconsistent, at our best. Blunderbuss represents Jack White at his finest, and may very well be judged as his best musical effort so far. At the very least, it’s a must-listen for any Jack White fan.
ALBUM RATING: 4.5 STARS (out of five)