There’s a sense of sadness to tinge the euphoria around a Jack White solo release. It’s fair to say that, compared to most of his contemporaries, White is somewhat ‘productive’ with his music output, but this album more than any feels like a replacement for a new release from the sadly departed White Stripes.
In a way, Jack White has always been a bit of a solo artist. Though recent admissions claim in the Stripes it was Meg running the show, it was always Jack that seemed the creative force. The Raconteurs and Dead Weather both live in the shadow of their leader; even when taking up production duties for someone else, it’s Jack who finds himself ‘the story’.
On his de facto solo debut it’s fair to say he flourishes, even if hogging the limelight is nothing new. There’s no epic reinvention of the Jack White sound - if anything, this is an album that stands as the product of what came before. From the screaming riff of ‘Sixteen Saltines’ to the tripped out dream sequence of ‘Take Me With You When You Go’, at times ‘Blunderbuss’ sounds the most cohesive distillation of the Third Man sound to date.
The brooding guitar line at the heart of ‘Freedom At 21’, and the typically Jack solo that follows it, the juxtaposition of acoustic guitars and violent wordplay of ‘Love Interruption’, and the piano led shuffle of ‘Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy’ all rank amongst White’s best moments; even if the latter does sound more than a touch like the theme to an 80s sitcom.
There’s no avoiding the fact ‘Blunderbuss’ is an album for those already long inducted into the church of Jack White. Those unconvinced by his particular tones will find little, if anything, to change their minds. Not that they’d be expecting to either; with a congregation more than happy for Jack to simply be Jack, every indication suggests that - if this does become White’s main creative outlet - he’s on to a winner.
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