Jack White – Blunderbuss

Rating: ★★★½☆

Jack White‘s pretty much done everything musically speaking at this point: he’s played in various bands (White Stripes, Raconteurs, etc) and he’s produced/written with music legends.  Heck, he even got to date Bridget Jones and marry a British super model, so what does he have left to prove to us?  Absolutely nothing…and that’s the point of Blunderbuss.

Old fans of Jack’s will probably enjoy the album opener “Missing Pieces;” it seems like one of the simpler songs he’s written in a long while, not to mention the fact that his distinctive voice really takes the song’s focus.  It’s also got a muddy feel with the chorus, which provides that raw energy his early White Stripes stuff carried with it. But, he then goes into “Sixtine Saltines,” a tune that I could probably do without.  It’s a definite rocker, so if that’s the Jack you’re looking for then it’s in this song; I just hate that it comes off as braggadocio rather than fragility and ingenuity.  The juxtaposition of the many faces of Jack White is something you’ll encounter time and time again on Blunderbuss.

“Love Interruption” was the first single from the album that really grabbed hold of me because of it’s stripped down structure.  Ruby Amanfu’s presence provides Jack with a familiar female counterpart, but the delivery of the two vocals is something that varies greatly from the work he’s done with other ladies. There’s something about this tune, as well as “I Guess I Should Go To Sleep” that demonstrates White’s ability to work others backing vocals easily into his songs.  What amazes me is that on Blunderbuss they all sort of seem to come off as a bit of impromptu jams, which probably isn’t too far from the truth in the end.  These are great songs that any fan will add to their favorites list.

There’s probably some songs on this album that most people will find appealing that just haven’t sunk in as of yet.  “I’m Shakin” and “Trash Tongue Talker” delve into White’s fascination with traditional blues-influenced rock n’ roll that first won over teenagers in the early years. It’s definitely clever, and his voice is more than fitting, but these songs don’t seem to be his strength–still, you can’t blame anyone for wanting to throw a rocking stomper out there.  Funnily, these two songs (my least favorite) move right into what’s my personal standout, “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy.”  This tracks is centered around a nice bit of barroom piano, and what I suspect is a bit of banjo in the background.  It stands out to me because it illustrates just how strong a voice Jack White actually has (no matter how often I forget).  It’s not even the most complex song in the world, but you better believe it’s a sweet tune all around.

With Blunderbuss you get sort of a mixed bag of Jack White.  He throws in a few rockers (not my cup of tea) to appease that side of his fans, but for the most part these are blues/country/bluegrass/barroom influenced tunes that are by and large pretty successful.  I guess there’s only a few stunning tracks on the effort, but he’s still able to accomplish a lot more in one album than most people will do in an entire career; I’ll gladly take a solo Jack over 99.9 % of the rest of the music out there. Such are the gifts of one of America’s finest songwriters.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/04-Love-Interruption.mp3]

Download:Jack White – Love Interruption [MP3]

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