Jack White has always been a busy man. Between working on The White Stripes, to the creation of The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, as well as the creation of his own label Third Man Records, Jack White always seemed to be happy staying behind the scenes while using others as his megaphones for musical revelry. Until now. The greatly awaited, highly scrutinized, very hyped album Blunderbuss dropped at the end of last month.
And oh man is it good. There’s a reason why The White Stripes have had such a following, and thats because of this man. However, when “Love Interruption” and “Sixteen Saltines” came out, they were so good that people were worried that those would be it and the album would flatline. That is so not the case. Now we all know what the White Stripes sound was, a mix between the garage rock and punk (which White grew up in) genres. With their last album Icky Thump it was easy to see what genre Jack was putting out. However, when Jack released the two singles off this album (along with “Machine Gun Silhouette” which is not an the album but now a kick ass b-side) it was clearly evident that Jack was moving in a more country way. Not a “I lost mah dog, I love mah truck, beer beer beer” way. More country rock and blues, which actually suits White sooo well. With that said, I listen to Blunderbuss and think to myself “what is this album?!?!??”. It’s a mix between blues, country, jazz, and straight up rock. I like to call it Nashville Rock. And if there was one person that had to model this genre to some alien or something like that, who better than Jack.
One of the unique aspects of this album is that every track is unique and entertaining. Not only that, but this album is universally appealing. As the A.V. Club found out when they interviewed him, White grew up in a barstool-judging hipster world. This album is not for them. This is not an album that you need to sit there and find out every single line and what it’s doing to really appreciate it. It’s an album that you can listen to at face value, enjoy it, and THEN go deeper and enjoy it even more. This is an album I guarantee that Ill see on peoples iPhones in a year or so with MAYBE one or two tracks other than the singles on it, which is a big deal for the main stream world. I’ve never really heard an album where every track starts off with an intriguing lick and then KEEPS being intriguing (I’m looking at you Dodo’s…). I think I was taken aback the first time I heard “Missing Pieces”, not only was I not expecting electric piano, but I was also not expecting a finessed brush on the drum set in the background. Though a lot of the times the intro doesn’t really clue the listener much into the actual song, it goes something like, “ooh…..Oooh!”. It’s like the song is going “you think that was cool? Well here comes the cooler shit.” for like, 11 songs.
Another aspect I really like about this album is the hidden humor. “Love Interruption” is already an ironic play on romance, but then a track like “I’m Shakin'” catches you completely off guard with it’s playful bluesy nature that you heard by great iconic artists such as Chuck and Bo Didley (who is mentioned in the song). Even the waltz like intro of “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” Which generations from now will be singing “Hippopotamus boy hoy, boooy.” Yet even the nature of that song is a good country foot tapper. The album really reaches its jazz-ish aspect with the intro of “I Guess I Should Go To Sleep” which is another funny title. The album perfectly ends with “Take Me With You When You Go” which has the same exact electric piano and ride cymbal feel that “Missing Pieces” had, which is highly symbolic. A mostly instrumental piece that just puts the entire album into prospective.
Overall this album is fantastic. The step away from agressive rock is an excellent move, and seems so much more natural to Jack. Also, the inclusion of the female vocalists at parts of the album especially at the last track is tasty. It’s the perfect way to put a cherry on this Nashville rock sundae (that was so cliche, I apologize). An album that will appeal to the masses without being so dumb and canned that it feels all the actual creativity had been sucked from the artist and shoved through a blender, to eventually be fed into an auto-tuner.
Blunderbuss was out 4/24 on Third Man/Columbia Records