Review : Jack White - Blunderbuss
PitchforkThe sleeve of Jack White's recent single "Sixteen Saltines" shows the man in a mirror, a straight razor near his neck. Two signs sandwich his reflected face. They read: "IF YOU TALK TOO MUCH... THIS MAN MAY DIE!" The image references an actual WWII poster from 1943 that encouraged soldiers to be mindful of giving up important information. And, for White's first proper solo endeavor, the image couldn't be more suiting and cleverly self-aware; will his entrance into the typically-confessional solo realm effectively kill the mythical Jack White, the red, white, and black virtuoso who's captured our imagination more than any other rock star over the last 10 years?
Fittingly, the answer isn't short. The fascination with White has endured partly thanks to his mastery of traditional rock'n'roll skills: power, volume, dexterity, charisma. But his talent for untangling and confusing those same tried-and-true ideas is just as vital. He's playing a frightfully sincere take on the blues wearing frightfully silly outfits. He's singing truth and authenticity while fibbing about his backstory. He increasingly seems like a legacy-minded, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame buff, and yet is prone to whimsical novelty like releasing a single via balloons and working with Insane Clown Posse (on a profane Mozart redux, no less). He's famously tough to pin down and, at a time when more people are going out of their way to define themselves on a minute-to-minute basis, this slipperiness holds a heightened currency. ...full text
GuardianAs former upholsterer Jack White might tell it, there's no constancy to things any more. Furniture isn't built to last. Records aren't made in high fidelity. The only people giving great thought to colour schemes pivotal to White are interior decorators. And fidelity itself? Women are trouble and always have been, certainly on the records that White has been associated with throughout the past 15-odd years.
But in these rapidly churning times you might point to one constant: White himself. Has he ever made a bad record? You might argue the Dead Weather albums aren't the ones you'd turn a friend on to first, but they're not duds. As befits a man who once posed with a cricket bat on the cover of an album, White's strike rate is exemplary. This debut solo album from the former White Stripe, Raconteur and Dead Weatherman is yet another reliably great outing, full of intriguing plot developments, yet in faithful keeping with White's previous output.
The rattling "Sixteen Saltines" is basically the White Stripes's "The Hardest Button to Button" all over again, only even better now that it's sung in an angry falsetto. By contrast, one particularly dramatic piano tune, "Weep Themselves to Sleep", finds White flowing like a rapper, spitting out bits of indignant assonance as the tune rolls along. The amazing spluttering guitar solo sounds like dental treatment treatment you'll want to have again and again. At one point on album-closer "Take Me With You When You Go", it seems as if White is playing a Jimmy Page guitar line on a very fat kazoo....full text
BbcHaving recently divorced his wife of six years, it's tempting to interpret Jack White's debut solo album as his very own version of Dylan's breakup classic, Blood on the Tracks. After all, with its bruised, scabrous lyrics full of nosebleeds, burst lips, missing limbs and pummelled digits and preoccupation with love gone not so much bad as cataclysmic, it sounds as though the erstwhile White Stripe has been eviscerated by his loss.
But it's important to remember that, not only was the split apparently amicable (his ex sings back-up on three songs here), but that White has never been a confessional songwriter in the conventional sense. Despite his deep devotion to the blues that most authentic of musical genres he's a conceptual art-rocker at heart, inhabiting his own unique crossroads between theatrical artifice and bloody-minded sincerity.
There's a sense throughout Blunderbuss trust him to choose such an archaic weapon that White is positively revelling in the role of the wronged lover. So you never get the sense that he's being entirely serious; he's too eccentric and machismo-camp to suggest otherwise. It's what defines him as an artist and it's why he may be the only great rock superstar of recent years....full text
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