Release Date: 24/4/2012
White's debut solo effort sees him at his most visceral and personal yet
It's a reasonable anaylsis that ever since "Seven Nation Army" Jack White has had the relatively mainstream sector of the rock 'n' roll world enthralled. Not only was that the break- out point for his most famous outlet, the brother/ sister (or husband/ wife, depending on who you ask) duo The White Stripes, but for years afterwards it had what seemed like the world hanging on his every pick of a guitar string. And quite rightly too- rock 'n' roll visionaries have always become embedded in the hallows of rock history and culture, and even though White has never ventured far out of the safety net provided by his undoubtably extensive record collection, only a fool would deny the need for "White Blood Cells" to be preserved for eternity.
"Blunderbuss", a feat that was utlimately always inevitable, is both a predictable and unexpected Jack White record. If you hadn't heard bluesy lead- off ditty "Love Interruption" chances are you would approach the record expecting one of two things; 1) It to be another high voltage dosage of crashing cymbals and crunching guitars or 2) a half- hearted, ineffective acoustic album. Arguably nobody would have guessed it would be a deeply personal and painful set of violent lovelorn tunes that reads a bit like a history of the landmark american genres Blues, Country and Funk. But that's exactly what it is. Never has White sounded so vicious in his career.
There's always been an abrupt and brutally honest romance about White's lyricism, but on "Blunderbuss" he employs the rawest imagery that we've heard from him yet. "I was in the shower so I could not tell my nose was bleeding" is the first line of opener "Missing Pieces", and as it progresses it tells an increasingly gnarly account of the pains of love before asserting at the end "They'll walk away and take a part of you with them." He's at it again on "Freedom at 21" as he sings (with slight melodrama) "She don't care what kind of wounds she's inflicting on me" over a sleazy, slinky and memorably catchy riff. The aforementioned "Love Interruption" acts as a slight counterpart to itself. Musically it's a bluesy, peaceful acoustic duet rich in eccentricity and a glorious keyboard riff, but lyrically it's White's most violent yet as he sings "I want love to stick a knife inside me and twist it all around."
There is, remarkably, quite a lot of room for versitality here. The title track is an idealistic, swooning country ballad with tranquil violins lilting in and out gorgeously. "Weep Themselves To Sleep" is more something you might expect from angular '70s pop fanatics Field Music, whilst halfway through it's progression closer "Take Me With You When You Go" transforms into the kind of grimy, fuzzy freak- funk wig out that probably mostly inspired White's output in The Dead Weather.
It's not all consistent and hard- hitting. In fact in its later half "Blunderbuss" wilts into a series of slow- burning, uninteresting songs. But by bearing his soul to its very core on some of these tracks, White has grasped the masterful art of brutality in lyricism that Tom Waits would love to regain. "Blunderbuss" is all at once a dark, pretty and accessible album which fully centres around and exposes White's heart, and there is much to be reaped from that.
Download: 1) Blunderbuss, 2) Hypocritical Kiss, 3) Missing Pieces
For Fans Of: Brendan Benson, Ray Charles, Bo Diddly