tue 25/06/2024

CD: Jack White - Blunderbuss | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jack White - Blunderbuss

CD: Jack White - Blunderbuss

No big change from Detroit's most prolific axeman, just richer and smoother

White: less egocentric than before

Sometimes I feel I’m the only one who finds Jack White’s music overrated. Although he's undeniably a prodigious axe man, I've never found his trademark raw, “underproduced” sound as convincing. That, however, was The White Stripes and The Raconteurs. Now White’s made an album just under his own name. And that begs the question of whether he has come up with a new musical manifesto. And, if so, is it any good?

Anyone hoping for a substantial creative left-turn will be disappointed. Blunderbuss still pounds the stripped-down blues rock trail. It's true there are more diversions along the way, but this is more evolution than revolution.That’s the bad news. The good news is that is the thicker arrangements really do fill in a lot of the gaps, giving textures that now feel complete. In fact, there are occasions on this album where even the most doubting of Thomases must concede White can really live up to his hype. It's where he moves furthest from his White Stripes template.

And it's also where White is at his most subtle. The acoustic guitar of title track Blunderbuss is as clear as the morning dew. "On and On and On" has a melody that tumbles ever forward. And "Hypocritical Kiss" is bathed in sweet honky-tonk piano. At the other end of the scale, "Missing Pieces", and "I'm Shaking" put such a smile back on his rough, lo-fi blues that you could almost be forgiven for thinking that were listening to The Black Keys' El Camino. The biggest departure, though, is the closer, "Take Me With You When You Go", which with echoes of Cream and Traffic is just a delight. That is, until the false finish, followed by a final minute of White-Stripes-by-numbers. By stomping all over it with his thin angsty voice, White almost ruins it.

It's the sort of creative decision that can put you right off him. Like the recent announcement that the albums' launch will be accompanied by a live concert-stream directed by actor friend Gary Oldman.They are reminders of how easily White can come over like a big show-off. But rest assured that, despite bearing his name for the first time, Blunderbuss is actually White's least egocentric work to date.

Watch Jack White's video for "Sixteen Saltines"


The thicker arrangements really do fill in a lot of the gaps giving textures that now feel complete


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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