Release Date: Apr 24, 2012
Record label: Columbia
Genre(s): Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock
At first, Jack White's first solo album seems to be a straightforward affair. He once claimed "I've got three fathers: my biological dad, God and Bob Dylan," and here, it seems, is his Blood on the Tracks. On the cover, the recently divorced White broods with a vulture on his shoulder. Inside, there are songs about collapsing relationships.
On the excellent single "Love Interruption," Jack White sings, "I want love to roll me over slowly/Stick a knife inside me/And twist it all around." Ask and ye shall receive, Jack. By the end of Blunderbuss, the guy has knives sticking out of his heart like peacock feathers, yet he's hungry for more punishment. Blunderbuss is his first solo album; it's also his most expansive and masterful record since the White Stripes' 2003 classic, Elephant, full of brilliant songs about how love tears your body and soul to shreds, slams your fingers in the door, grinds your face in the dirt.
Okay, I think I get it now. Jack White is not the “seventh son” or even the “third man,” but the “last man.” You know, the man who remains after all the wars have ended, and the class struggle has ended, and your band’s broken up, and your wife’s gone, and the money’s worthless, and there’s nothing left to do but hole up in your studio and make some noise. (See here.) Typically, the last man is a little doughy and kinda cracked.
There are many schools of thought on this Jack White person. Some had waited for him to ditch Meg since day one, some prefer The Raconteurs, others think he’s better producing and most bemoaned the death of The White Stripes. Everyone’s going to be happy with Blunderbuss. For one, it’s extremely personal.
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.
So the real question here is 'could Jack White’s solo debut Blunderbuss pass for a seventh White Stripes album?' The answer is a 'yes', and erratic as the duo could be, I'd hope that with that summary I might be able to send a few short attention spanned readers off happily into the night. For those of you sticking around for the long haul, I suppose the biggest fear about the prospect of a White (or Gillis or White III or whatever) solo record is that the yelping oddball who Saved Music™ a decade or so ago now seems to be a very much more grown up figure. In 2012 he is regarded with warm approval by the whole spectrum of the establishment music press, with any lingering doubts at his eccentricities probably smoothed over by It Might Get Loud, an unutterably boring looking documentary film where he, Jimmy Page and The Edge talk about guitars for ages Then there is his recent musical output.
When he was asked if he kept a notebook to record all of his great ideas, Einstein answered with a shrug that he’d only ever had one. That the idea in question was the theory of relativity, the cornerstone of our understanding of the universe, is beside the point: true inspiration strikes the individual as seldom as a bolt of blue ice from the undercarriage of a passing aircraft. Jack White III was John Anthony Gillis’ one great idea.
It’s a good thing the White Stripes broke up. If they hadn’t, we’d still be suffering through overblown, overrated albums from a band that hit its peak sometime between 2004 and 2006. Instead, we get Jack White left to his own devices. This is a good thing. To quote His Holiness Hova, White.
Review Summary: Jack White opens up, rifle in hand.It’s a bit surprising to think that Blunderbuss is Jack White’s first proper solo album, coming as it does at an age where people start to think less of what’s coming next and more of what’s been left behind, especially given White’s indisputable figurehead status. Few would consider acts like the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather as bands that just happen to have Jack White in them, and fewer still would associate the White Stripes with Meg. Yet here Mr.
As 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 ….
The 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.
Ladies, what have you done to Jack White? On the former White Stripes frontman’s first solo album (which is also his first full-length since his 2011 divorce from model and Third Man labelmate Karen Elson), he thinks you’re all out to get him, you liberated women who got ”freedom in the 21st century,” who feel ”no responsibility, no guilt or morals,” who want to cut off his arms and store them in the icebox or drill holes in his lifeboat with your spike heels. He tapped an all-female band to back him on Saturday Night Live recently, but here he’s still dreaming of the old days, when men were men, and girls would ”hold their hands behind them. ” If White’s afraid of modern women, it’s because he’s always fetishized the past; he’s a man so bugged out by technology, he once built a guitar from three nails, some wood, and a Coke bottle.
Jack WhiteBlunderbuss[Columbia Records; 2012]By Kerri O'Malley; April 25, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetI don’t think this is an album that anyone can approach without expectations. Released ten years after we met Jack White through the White Stripes’ breakout hit, “Fell in Love With A Girl,” Blunderbuss comes with a lot of baggage, most of it caught up in a man who invents his own myths, making him both iconic, untrustworthy, and unforgettable, his presence felt in all of his music. Always theatrical, elusive, and rebellious to the core, Jack’s solo album, built on ostensibly sad or disillusioned lyrics, feels more distant and less sincere than his work in the White Stripes, hidden behind a jaded cool.
The last time we heard Jack White on a full-length, he was a married man and we were all hoping that the next time we heard he was in the studio he would be there with Meg. Needless to say, one divorce and millions of tantrums from irate fans later, neither of these are the case. Both, however, show up quite clearly in the music. Blunderbuss sees White strip away most of his the guitar virtuosity that made so many of us notice him almost a decade (or more!) ago in favor of letting his wide variety of influences and his love for numerous genres show, but he also stays more focused than he did with the Raconteurs and never gets as harsh as he did with The Dead Weather.
Jack White’s career has seen him continually acting as both musician and strategist, as well as the veritable figurehead for the many projects in which he’s immersed himself, from the White Stripes to the Dead Weather. On Blunderbuss, White goes it alone for the first time, and the odd music that results shows him at his freest yet, a state that allows for variety but also some disarray. Released from the dictates of the templates that have governed his career so far, he embarks on tangential excursions that have familiar roots but end up in unexpected places.
Auteur Jack White has touched on many different sounds in his various incarnations (White Stripes/Raconteurs/Dead Weather) but this is the first time he has sounded happy. His official solo debut –we won’t count that dreadful James Bond theme with Alicia Keys—has less guitar and more piano, most played by Brooke Waggoner, one of the women in his backing outfit. A few edgy guitar heavy moments sneak in on the Stripes-ish “Sixteen Saltines” and a handclap propelled rollicking cover of Little Willie John’s “I’m Shakin’,” but generally this is a kinder, gentler, giddier Jack White.
For all of the music Jack White has put out into the world, Blunderbuss is his first solo album, though it sounds much like his work with The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, or The Dead Weather. Written, recorded, and produced entirely by White, Blunderbuss has all the stomp and sway of his best records, but also the unevenness that plagues him to varying degrees. .
It’s true: Jack White may be the only real “rock star” we have left these days. Oh sure, we’ll still have an overabundance of rockers from here to eternity, but only in the rarest of times are we treated with a “rock star”, one who doesn’t simply define the rock paradigm for the era, but also serves as our one-stop-shop for everything that is truly “cool”. Jack White has been this generation’s dispenser of all things “cool” for several reasons.
Jack White's first proper post-White Stripes solo album began on a whim when the RZA blew off a recording session - and it shows. Blunderbuss has the casual feel of a talented rocker fooling around in a nice studio, giving a pleasing sense of immediacy but with far less weight than you'd expect from an album this highly anticipated. It's immediately pleasing and, thanks to varied instrumentation, comes across as far more complex than it actually is.
Early last year, Jack White told BBC Radio 4’s Today that he almost chose religion over music. “I was thinking at 14 that possibly I might have had the calling to be a priest,” he explained. “Blues singers and people who are singing on stage have the same feelings and emotions that someone who is called to be a priest might have.” There’s a lot to take away from that, and it gives a little context to his most lucrative venture thus far: Third Man Records.
He has been a White Stripe, a Raconteur, and a Dead Weather-man and now he is finally, simply, Jack White. Of course, all of those groups serve as a preamble to “Blunderbuss,” out today, each informing the 13 reeling and rocking tracks. An analog man in a digital world, White supplies a “trip through the past” quality to “Blunderbuss” — as there has been with most of his output.
Critic. Critique. Criticism. The unwritten law of ‘who you should get to talk about a record’, if, indeed we intend ‘writing about music’ to involve at least one of those three words, is that if you’ve ever publicly declared your undying love for an artist, you’re not the most qualified to work out if their latest opus is any good or not.
Since the White Stripes stopped taking thorny, deconstructed blues to the bank (thereby cashing all of Jon Spencer, Jeffrey Evans and Matt Verta-Ray’s checks), Jack White has dipped his muse into various idioms like he was doing laundry by the side of the river and letting it dry on the rocks. Whether he’s dealing in chrome-plated early-’70s rock with the Raconteurs, fierce post-punk with the Dead Weather, straight-up country with Loretta Lynn or the foreign-cinema-inspired themes in Danger Mouse’s Rome project, White has proven himself to be just as good a listener as he is a player. He knows when to honor tradition and when to stab it in the groin.
"I want love to grab my fingers gently, slam them in the doorway, put my face into the ground," declares Jack White in a butterscotch croon. For a guy defined by stark iconography, media-mystifying biographies, and liquid-hot guitars, his proper solo debut, Blunderbuss, finds the Detroit godhead and onetime savior of rock & roll entering singer-songwriter comedown. For the first time in his life, Jack White's recording songs about John Anthony Gillis.
After all these years, there's still nobody quite like him. Paul Whitelaw 2012 Having 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.
JACK WHITE “Blunderbuss” (Columbia) The good news is that Jack White’s first solo album sounds ruled by his real-time nervous system. He’s made an album of impetuousness and instinctive design. He’s allowed first-take buzzes and imperfections, created whole songs out of small and fast notions. Forcible freshness protection is his first talent.