Jack White is versatile on new solo CD
After 15 years in the music business, Detroit-native Jack White has quite a few projects under his belt. In addition to producing countless albums for many artists, he was a member of four bands before releasing six studio albums with The White Stripes, two with The Raconteurs and two with The Dead Weather. At the age of only 36, White is finally releasing a solo album.
“Blunderbuss,” is due out April 24, but has been streaming for free on iTunes since April 16. Two singles have been released, “Love Interruption” and “Sixteen Saltines,” and a vinyl recording of “Freedom at 21” was also released via helium balloon, as a stunt celebrating Record Store Day.
While it’s tough to fathom that White can come up with any new sounds that haven’t been showcased in any of his former bands, he manages to do it on “Blunderbuss.” He says that none of the music on “Blunderbuss” would sound right presented under anything but his own name. Recently divorced from model-turned-singer Karen Elson, many of the songs have bitter undertones, which leads one to believe that these songs haven’t exactly been a long time coming.
“Sometimes someone controls everything about you, and when they tell you that they just can’t live without you, they ain’t lyin’. They’ll take pieces of you and they’ll stand above you and walk away. That’s right, and take a part of you with them,” closes out the opening song, “Missing Pieces,” setting the tone for the rest of the album.
He’s always been a bit more theatrical than your typical autobiographical songwriter. But then again, nothing about the eccentric White is typical. “Blunderbuss” is definitely more personal than anything he’s released before, even if that isn’t saying much.
White has never shied away from experimenting with his music. Some things work for him, and others leave listeners scratching their head wondering, “What is this?” But this is probably why he’s renowned as such an innovative musician. You can’t achieve success without a little bit of risk, and this album was a risk that worked out.
Despite the fact that other than his oddities, White is primarily known for his guitar skills, even being included on “Rolling Stone’s” list of 100 greatest guitarists, he doesn’t showcase them very much on this album. Of course, when he does, they’re great, but he sure doesn’t neglect the other plethora of instruments that he can play.
White fuses soft piano and violin on some songs, like namesake “Blunderbuss,” and his regular garage rock sounds on songs like “Sixteen Saltines.” He picks up a folky sound in “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy.” He even adopts a country twang in “I Guess I Should Go to Sleep” and rockabilly riffs in “I’m Shakin’.”
This doesn’t sound like an awkward mix, though. The tracks on “Blunderbuss” surprisingly cohesively flow together. Something that they all do have in common, though, is that signature raw sound that White is known for, like he might have recorded in the garage of his super-expensive Tennessee home.
It’s rare that a band member’s solo album is actually good. It usually leaves fans shaking their heads and wishing they’d return to whatever band they’d come from. But of course, White manages to make it work. So if you’ve been a fan of him at any time in his career, “Blunderbuss” will probably appeal to you. Even though he’s publicly dissed Detroit, his May show sold out in 13 minutes. That has got to say something.
Tracks to check out: “Weep Themselves to Sleep,” “Love Interruption” and “I’m Shakin’.”Originally Published: 04/22/12 10:33pm