I’ve always been a fan of Jack White. I was first introduced to him as part of The White Stripes, with the acoustic tune “Hotel Yorba.” I was immediately hooked. Catchy song, killer lyrics, and a voice like I’d never heard before.
As I got more and more into The White Stripes, I began to understand just how powerful the really was. Songs like “Broken Bricks” and “When I Hear My Name” off of the band’s self-titled debut album solidified my passion for the band. Then you move into an album like De Stijl with tunes like “Hello Operator” and “Death Letter,” and you’ve got me sold…I’m a White Stripes fanatic. Obviously the band only continued to grow and prosper with their following albums, White Blood Cells, Elephant (“Ball and Biscuit” remains one of my favorite songs of all time), Get Behind Me Satan, and Icky Thump.
I had the opportunity to see The White Stripes at Memorial Hall in Kansas City in support of Elephant on June 28th, 2003. I was blown away. That concert is hands down one of the greatest live shows I have ever seen. Unfortunately, that was the only time I ever saw The White Stripes live.
I love The White Stripes for one reason and one reason only: Jack White. That’s the same reason I got into The Raconteurs, the same reason I’m sure many of us got into The Dead Weather.
There’s just something about him.
I am incredibly excited to see Jack White embark on his solo career in support of his first studio album, Blunderbuss. He is doing a two-night stay at the Roseland Ballroom in May and we will be there the first night and will have all the nitty gritty details for you.
Blunderbuss hits store shelves next Tuesday, April 24th, 2012. If you have time, stream the album in its entirety for free on iTunes…that’s right, I said “for free.” I’ve spent most of the day listening and re-listening to the album, and let me say this: It is fantastic.
The record opens up with the very catchy tune “Missing Pieces.” It seems to encompass every aspect of the solo Jack White musician, and packages it in a neat, accessible track. It’s a great way to start out and introduce the world to his first solo album.
There’s no concealing my feelings for the next song, “Sixteen Saltines.” This song is Jack White. I was blown away the first time I heard it, when Jack White performed it as the second song in his set for Saturday Night Live. Every time I hear it, I have to sit back and just crank up the volume. This song is Jack White. This song is rock and roll.
“Freedom at 21″ has a different feel to it, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The rhythm of the drums and their echo, the beat of Jack White’s lyrics…this takes his solo stuff to a new level, and I dig it from beginning to end. The guitar riff has a familiar sound to it, like a more mature take on the unforgettable foundation of “Seven Nation Army.” Jack White does what Jack White does best…in the middle of the tune, he lets loose and delivers a phenomenal solo, and then gets right back into it. This is a very “full” song. It seems like there are a lot of moving parts, and yet Jack White makes it sound so simple.
Speaking of simple, as much complexity as “Freedom at 21″ gives the listener, “Love Interruption” takes a step back and delivers a heartfelt folk tune that you can’t help but hum as you’re walking around. A simple guitar hook, Jack White’s signature vocals, a killer keys beat…I love this track.
Next, “Love Interruption” blends perfectly into the title track of the album, “Blunderbuss.” Throw in some strings and you’ve got another beautiful tune that proves Jack White can go from head-banging rock star to a folk soul singer at the drop of a hat. With lyrics like “You took me to a public place to quietly blend into,” this is definitely one of the shining moments of Jack White’s album.
“Hypocritical Kiss” and “Weep Themselves to Sleep” seem to go hand-in-hand; the former brings in the piano and slowly builds into the latter, which opens with a pounding rhythm and a hauntingly beautiful fill by the keys. Near the end of “Weep Themselves to Sleep,” Jack White’s scratchy guitar swoops in and plays right alongside of the piano…and I love every second of it.
Track number eight, “I’m Shakin’,” gives fans one of the funkiest tunes to come out of the mind of Jack White. You’ve got a funky guitar riff, you’ve got a funky rhythm, and you’ve got the funky back-up singers. When you hear this song, I guarantee your toes will be tapping.
And on to “Trash Tongue Talker.” He slows things down a bit from the previous tune, but somehow delivers just as much toe-tappin’ goodness. The slower drum beat quickly picks up and adds a blues-driven piano rhythm, but then slows back down. These sort of dynamics in a single tune give Jack White the sound that nobody else can replicate.
“Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” has a happy-go-lucky opening and that feeling doesn’t go anywhere as the song progresses. This is by far one of the catchiest tunes on the record. “Wherever you be, you’ll be lookin’ at me,” sings Jack White. This is the song you crank up in your car with the windows down as you cruise an old country road in the summertime.
Jack White finds his old-school blues with the next song, “I Guess I Should Go to Sleep.” It’s stripped down and focuses on the rhythm of the tune along with the driving piano and the singer’s voice. As great as the guitar solos are on this album, you really have to respect the piano work, too. And this song showcases some of the great key-work on Blunderbuss.
“On and On and On” is ethereal. I don’t know any other way to describe this exquisite song.
The album closes out with “Take Me with You When You Go.” It’s the perfect track to end the record. Equal parts rock, funk, folk, and soul, Jack White holds nothing back with this remarkable, outstanding song.
Somehow, Jack White encompasses all of the power and uniqueness of Ryan Adams, Wilco, and Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst while infusing it with the funk and rock and roll that you grew accustomed to with The White Stripes. Jack White has laid the foundation for his solo career with Blunderbuss, and I get the feeling he won’t be looking back anytime soon.
Blunderbuss drops on April 24th, 2012 on Third Man Records. It was written, recorded and produced by Jack White. Click here to get details on his tour and how you can get your hands on the album.