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Album Review

Jack White leaves such an indelible stamp on any project he touches that a solo album from him almost seems unnecessary: nobody has ever told him what to do. He's a rock & roll auteur, bending other artists to fit his will, leading bands even when he's purportedly no more than a drummer, always enjoying dictating the fashion by placing restrictions on himself. And so it is on Blunderbuss, his first official solo album, arriving five years after the White Stripes' last but seeming much sooner given White's constant flurry of activity with the Raconteurs, Dead Weather, Third Man Records, and countless productions. Here, he's once again placed restrictions on himself but they're not quite as clearly defined as they've been in the past, as when he's gotten great dividends by working with a limited palette. All the restrictions are entirely of a comforting variety: he's abandoned the primitivism of the White Stripes, something that came easily with Meg White bashing away on the drums, and has chosen a quieter, polished route, rotating in different musicians for different tracks. Jack still pulls out some standards from his bag of tricks — clenched blues explosions, squealing guitars, and a cool breeze of electric piano — but musicians matter and this bunch of pro players tightens and softens his attack (sometimes to its detriment, as on a clumsy cabaret version of Little Willie John's "I'm Shakin'"). When Blunderbuss gets furious, it's hard not to miss the chaos Meg brought to the Stripes — with her at the drums, "Sixteen Saltines" would fly off the rails — but it's a mistake to think of this album as a professionally produced White Stripes record as it relies as heavily on ideas White explored on his handful of old-timey acoustic cuts and the '70s guitar rock of the Raconteurs. If it resembles any Stripes album it's Get Behind Me Satan, the dark, odd 2005 set written in the wake of a breakup and filled with songs of paranoia and recrimination. This too is a divorce album with every song concerning love gone wrong, yet it's easy to ignore all the pain roiling underneath because Blunderbuss plays so sweetly, its melodies easing into memory and its surface warm and pleasant. Contradictions are nothing new for Jack White but he's never been as emotionally direct as he is here, nor has he been as musically evasive, and that dichotomy makes Blunderbuss a record that only seems richer with increased exposure.

Customer Reviews

Jack White is amazing.

What more is there to say really? His voice is so unique and incredible, and he's one of the best guitar players ever. He's a true musician in every way and writes great lyrics to go with real rock n roll music. The world needs more real rock n roll like this again.

officially life changing music

when everything else is recycled, retuned and poor empty emotionless writing, its great to see an artist that kicks in the door with each track. No matter if he is penning a ballad or destroying you with overtoned raw grinding riffs, Jack White never lets himself or his fans down. Each track stands alone and thats what makes him an overwhelmingly great artist. If you haven't downloaded this album yet, get on it!!

Not the Jack White you are used to/were expecting

I am a huge Jack White fan. White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather, what have you. I'm part of the Vault members for Third Man Records.

That said, this is a very unique and new side of Jack. It is not remotely what you would be used to hearing. There are some hints of late White Stripes and some Raconteurs, but for the most part, it's different. I suppose after hearing Sixteen Saltines, I expected there to be some more grit (even though the grit in that song comes across refined instead of raw) and I got excited for it...that's it except for a few snippets (Take Me With You When You Go). The rest of the album is kind of strange sometimes. It's good...just probably not what you were expecting. Missing Pieces and Love Interruption are great songs, but beyond that, I have trouble saying, "Oh yeah, that song is great too." It's great to see him take a new, interesting journey and venture into the realm of new music, but I guess I miss the old Jack too.

At some point you'll ask yourself, "is this really Jack White?" It's almost the exact same feeling when Danger Mouse got a hold of The Black Keys; you kind of said, "What the hell happened?" What you know of Jack White and what you have heard from his previous work has given you a expectation of what is coming in the future. I understand this is him defining himself as a solo artist, but I'm not sure if I'm crazy about it. It's odd. It just doesn't fulfill what you want it to. But I'm also used to hearing different sides of him. The difference between Elephant and Get Behind Me Satan is INSANE, and they're only 2 years apart! And hearing him in a rock band with the Raconteurs (saw them at Lollapalooza in 2006 and they kicked it hard) and on drums in the Dead Weather...point is I know he's capable of a lot and he's wildly talented...but my mouth is still dry from lack of awesome.

Understand this: I was STOKED for this album. You couldn't shut me up about it. I listened to it and found myself saying, "huh?" So I shook it off and listened again and..."huh?" I am listening to it the third time through now, but I just can't see this album growing on me and I am bummed out about it.


Born: July 9, 1975 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most admired guitarists of the early 21st century, Jack White helped restore the popularity of punk-blues as the frontman of the White Stripes. Meanwhile, he widened his reach by participating in a range of other projects, including the Raconteurs, the Cold Mountain soundtrack, Loretta Lynn's comeback vehicle Van Lear Rose, the Dead Weather, and a solo career. Although White's nasal voice and loose, fiery guitar delivery were mainstays of the White Stripes' early work, the group branched...
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Blunderbuss, Jack White
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