Jack White is flake.
First thing, Jack: I know you enjoy looking like a vampire, but you are not a vampire, OK? They don’t exist – the fact you can appear in sunlight should be your first clue. And what about the party you threw to commemorate the divorce to your supermodel wife? Don’t you have kids? Look, as a child of divorce I can tell you watching your parents split up is no time for a party. It sucks, actually, and not in some sort of vampire way.
We won’t get into the whole “my bandmate is my sister but really she used to be my wife” – but suffice to say it’s more than weird.
So yes, Jack White has issues.
But when the man writes a song, he is unparalleled – whether he’s fronting The White Stripes, The Raconteurs or The Dead Weather, a trio of outfits with clear and defined visions. Now with Blunderbuss, the first album White has fronted as himself, this run of stellar work has continued and to some extent excelled. A revelation of rock, blues, pop and country, Blunderbuss showcases a supreme songwriter at the top of his game.
As good as his previous work is, there’s a sense White defers to the musicians around him, giving them space to create. But in Blunderbuss White has full control, and opposed to other frontmen whose solo albums suffered without the input of their bandmates (I’m looking at you Thom Yorke and Craig Finn), it’s clear White’s is the only opinion that ever mattered. After listening to “Sixteen Saltines” this fact leaves the listener feeling a bit cheated – do you mean all White Stripes songs could have sounded this good? W.T.F.
And it’s not that White developed fancy new hooks or delved into unexplored genres – he’s doing what he’s always done, but in sharper turns. “Missing Pieces” opens with a playful electric organ before breaking into a lingering guitar familiar throughout White’s catalog – and then the voice erupts with his odd and sometimes eerie sentiments “I was in the shower so I could not tell my nose was bleeding.” “Sixteen Saltines” attacks from the outset – the grinding guitars that made Elephant such a stunning album are in full display – but the drums are spot on (sorry Meg), making this two and a half minutes of boisterous bliss.
The moments he escapes from his past self showcase his maturity as a songwriter. “Love Interruption” has the minimalist vibe White craves, but uses instruments (Wurlizter, clarinet) not usually in his arsenal (plus he sings along with an unnamed female singer). “Hypocritical Kiss” is dominated by a pounding piano unlike ever heard from him before – it’s seems overtly grand on purpose.
“Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” is getting plenty of ink for its pointed lyrics toward Meg (And you’ll be watching me girl/Takin’ over the world/Let the stripes unfurl/Gettin’ rich Singin’ ‘poor boy, poor boy’), but if you throw way the lyrics and listen to the music, it’s downright happy in a jaunty “I’m a 6-year-old watching a circus” way. Jack White does dour, but bubbly?
I could go on, but it would be effusive. I’ll say this: The album is dynamic but remains true to who and what JackWhite has created in his more than 15 years as a musician. He may not be the best person to hang around with (just ask Jason Stollsteimer), but he’s worth listening to at any and all times.