tue 09/08/2022

Album: Jack White - Entering Heaven Alive | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Jack White - Entering Heaven Alive

Album: Jack White - Entering Heaven Alive

Playful, varied, relaxed and enjoyable new one from the former White Stripe

Jack White's vinyl albums will disappear during The Rapture

Jack White’s last couple of albums, Boarding House Reach from 2018 and Fear of the Dawn from April this year, were both driven by experimentalism, dipping into electronics, hip hop, noise and more. They were both, to differing degrees, admirable in intent, coming from an artist perceived as zealously retro, but they were also only partially successful.

Entering Heaven Alive is a less wilful beast and, in terms of enjoyably straightforward songwriting, the better for it. It will, naturally, and as is undoubtedly intended, be viewed of-a-piece with Fear of the Dawn, since the latter only came out three months ago. Where that album roared and raged, love-wounded, sometimes harking back to the most punk White Stripes moments, this one is chatty and playful, albeit still often lyrically entwined with matters of the heart. It’s also in thrall to the late 1960s and early-Seventies.

Classic Rolling Stones springs to mind with piano-fuelled honky-tonkers “Please God, Don’t Tell Anyone”, the catchy “Tree on Fire from Within” and strong opener “A Tip from You to Me”, but elsewhere White plays with the studio like a Beatle on the small ensemble stringed-up orchestrations of “If I Die Tomorrow” and “Help Me Along”, the former a persuasive reflection on giving back to those who’ve shown him support.

Given the jolly eclecticism, favourites will be a matter of taste, but for my money, the kingpin number is “I’ve Got You Surrounded (With My Love)”, a rumblin’ jam, a muffled, echoing, swampy voodoo blues featuring a guitar solo that sounds like Jimmy Page via a kazoo. It’s excellent! But others may prefer the final fiddle-led hoedown, “Taking Me Back (Gently)”, or the pre-rock’n’roll-ish, Louis Jordan-esque sass of “Queen of the Bees”, or the Sixties-Bowie-folk-pop of “All Along the Way”.

The lyrics are chewy and well-wrought throughout, from the love-pondering couplets of Seventies-rocker “Love is Selfish” (“I got a sail boat with her name painted on it but I don’t know how to sail”) to the mischievous, winding word-play of “Madman from Manhattan”’s shuffling beatnik jazz-blues (and another album high point).

Entering Heaven Alive is White on a roll, easy-going but musically rich, and its many moods and styles carry over well.

Below: watch the video for "Love is Selfish" by Jack White

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