I wrote a little synopsis a little while ago of people I thought were one day destined and guaranteed to be hall of fame inductees. Jack White was right at the top of that list. I certainly think he has to be considered one of those musical geniuses of our time period. It’s strange looking at musicians who I have actually seen from their inception to current time becoming hall of famers. These rock gods are supposed to be people that my parents listened to. It’s almost like how I hate knowing that half of the best athletes out there now a days are younger than I am. When did all the cool people stop being people I could also look up to as my senior. Anyway, I’m amazed at the ability of Jack White to achieve greatness in so many different styles. The White Stripes was his rock group, the Raconteurs are his folk group, and the Dead Weathers are his punk band. With him finding so many different niches already, I was really excited for his solo release. I was quite curious what style it would be in at least.
I was actually quite pleased with the result of this record. I have picked up every album Jack White has made and, although I don’t really enjoy The Dead Weathers all that much, I would say I really enjoy his ability to create a unique sound with his different projects. One song stands out as one that would have fit perfectly on this record for me. The last song on The Raconteur’s album Consoler of the Lonely is called “Carolina Drama”. It tells the story of some domestic violence, but it has a real folk country sound to it. I think it’s probably the song that reminds me the most of the type of material White put together for this album. Thankfully, “Carolina Drama” is a personal favorite of mine.
Back in January White gave his fans a little taste of his upcoming album with the song “Love Interruption”. I was really interested to hear what his sound was like. White Stripes had broken up and none of the other acts he has were really putting anything out. I wasn’t really sure what his inspiration would be like for this album. The song is probably one of the more quiet songs on the album. In fact, it doesn’t seem to feature all that many instruments at all. There is a guitar and organ for sure, but there really aren’t all that many other instruments to accompany it. I was curious if the entire album was going to be this low key. Also the topic seemed to be really interesting as well. He recently was divorced from his wife so, like many others, I was curious to know if this album was about the break up. He didn’t seem all that broken up when they threw a party to celebrate the time they spent together. I guess there’s nothing like a good divorce party.
Even though I think “Love Interruption” is a great song, I’m really happy that this album has some crazy amount of variety to it. If you’ve read one of my music reviews before then you know I definitely appreciate an album that keeps me interested. I can’t hear too much of the same thing over and over again. Thankfully White’s voice alone keeps things extremely interesting. “Missing Pieces” is a great song to start the entire album off with. Once again the music is somewhat subdued and plays second fiddle to White’s voice, but it complements it extremely well. Jack’s twangy voice and ample story telling will really rope the listener in. There is a quick little guitar solo in the middle that leads to a nice little musical breakdown; however, the rest of the song is heavy on organ, keyboard, and drums. Once again it seems like White could be dealing with the break up as he sings about someone taking pieces of him and leaving.
There are plenty of other songs on the album I enjoy quite a bit as well. “Sixteen Saltines” follows the opening track and it has a much different feel to it. It opens with a really loud and blaring guitar line. White’s voice starts with a yelling quality, but he quickly transitions to a falsetto delivery halfway through. I like how his voice even changes throughout the song. The song “I’m Shakin'” has a very obvious bluesy quality to it for sure. One might even refer to this one as his Black Keys song. He has a very good twang to his voice that is really complemented by the soulful backup singers he uses on this song. “Take Me With You When You Go”, the final song on the album, may be one of my favorite songs. It doesn’t have the same big flashy quality that some of the other songs do, but it features a little more of the instrumental aspects and good harmony. An added bonus, and the real reason I enjoy the song, is the way in which it almost transitions to a completely different song about half way through. There are some really fuzzy guitar, hefty drums, and very quickly sung lyrics by both White and the accompanying singer. Before the end they manage to tie the first and second half of the song together to give is great continuity.
There are actually a couple of songs I’m not huge on but, unlike other albums from other artists, I don’t detest them enough to skip them. “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” is an incredibly catchy song that I think I would normally like. It’s definitely a toe tapper for sure, but I find myself just getting a little annoyed with the song overall. Plus I keep thinking he is singing Hippopotamus Poor Boy. I know he was going for that, but I don’t quite get the same enjoyment out of it I’m sure he intended. “Blunderbuss”, the title song for the album, is another fairly good song, but it just doesn’t do a whole lot for me. I almost feel like it’s missing something to keep me interested. I have a feeling this is more of just a personal feeling on these songs after listening to the album a bunch of times.
Ultimately I really like this album, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up on my list of top albums of the year. I’ll have to see if it has staying power for me. There is already an album or two I think will make that eventual list. There are a bunch of other great songs on the album I didn’t mention; therefore, you need to open up Spotify or go get the album and give it a listen. If you’ve ever enjoyed something White has produced in the past, I think you’ll like this one too!
Teacher Grade: A