Whether you love or hate him, Jack White has been a force in the music industry for the past 15 years. Being the ring leader of The White Stripes, reminding the world that rock wasn’t dead in the early 2000s. Help creating one of the strangest James Bond themes with Alicia Keys, being even stranger for the fact both of their voices worked well with each other. Joining forces with the likes of Brendan Benson, Jimmy Page, Beck, Wanda Jackson, Loretta Lynn among others. Operating a record label, and continuous work helping the indie music scene thriving in Nashville. He has been everywhere earning the respect of legends, hipsters, casual listeners, kids and adults a like. It was time to do a solo album.
With 2012’s “Blunderbuss” people really didn’t know what to expect when it came to style. Would it be noisy and ferocious like The White Stripes? Would it be gritty and groovy like The Raconteurs? Classic and sentimental like the Loretta Lynn album he produced? For having such a distinctive sound, it really could have went in a lot of different ways but it went every way.
The lead single “Sixteen Saltines” (a long with it’s fever dream white trash music video) tricked the audience into thinking that this was going to be blistering, raw garage rock collection, but in reality that’s the only song on the entire album that would fit in with any of his previous endeavors. The rest of the album crosses genres like classic R&B, gospel, country and even swing with his cover of Little Willie John’s “I’m Shakin”. Within each of the genres “Blunderbuss” flirts with, one thing is a constant: Jack White’s personal stamp of artistry,
Each song tells a different story of love, heartache, depression and obsession with it’s own distinct flavor. The melancholy ache of “Missing Pieces” (my personal favorite on the album) to the soulful yet dark “Lover Interruption” White knows how to paint a mental picture and craft a story with his soundscapes lyrical hooks. All of which fit well amongst each other despite being of different flavors much like his very own career and personal style.
It’s hard to put a title as to what genre this album is, it’s equal parts country, blues, pop, and rock but in that bizarre Jack White sense where nothing is stale, predictable or cliché. One song you’re sulking along with him as he pours his soul out from his guts, telling you how he feels about the girl who broke his heart and the next minute, he’s telling a similar story in the song that makes you want to get on the dance floor like a scene from The Great Gatsby. These plot twist make the album exciting as if using the mystery of what you are listening to as an instrument, just as important as any piano, bass or guitar “Blunderbuss” features.
I just recently picked this album up on vinyl after owning the ITunes version since release, and let me tell you, if there is any album out there that requires a listen on this format, it’s this one. The warm instrumentation plays up the emotional intensity and creates an album that is a must-own for any vinyl enthusiast. It just has that certain ‘classic’ album appeal. Jack understands this, as his label also prints vinyl for not only his own acts but for other’s as well.
In closing, “Blunderbuss” is culmination of everything Jack White has done over the years, all rolled into an intimate album, showcasing an artist on the top of his game. It might not be the ‘feel good summer album’ you’ll play while at the public pool or at the gym sweating off calories, but it WILL be the album you listen to with big studio quality headphones at 3am when you reflect on every boy or girl who has broken your heart in the past. Jack clearly knows that pain, and is with you while listening to it.