Jack White, Blunderbuss (Third Man Records / XL Recordings / Columbia Records) **** (From York Press)
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Jack White, Blunderbuss (Third Man Records / XL Recordings / Columbia Records) ****
AFTER hiding in super-group side projects The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather since the demise of the White Stripes last year, Jack White’s first solo album is finally here.
A mixture of rock, folk, jazz and funk, Blunderbuss is hardly miles away from White’s previous work, but it’s less confined to the boy/girl stylings of his partnership with Meg, and unlike his recent efforts, he’s front and centre throughout.
From the playful keyboards of opener Missing Pieces to the country rock of Hypocritical Kiss and Love Interruption, and the cod-operatic (in its stage-musical piano and structure, if not vocals), Weep Themselves To Sleep, there’s maturity in the scope of the album, and a sense of restraint so often missed on debut solo efforts.
Latest single Sixteen Saltines is probably the closest to his White Stripes work – think Hardest Button To Button, written about crackers and with wonderfully squelchy guitar.
Excellent late track I’m Shakin’ is a 70-odd year old blues standard which sits quite at home alongside White’s original tracks- you’d be forgiven for thinking Trash Tongue Talker isn’t similarly vintage.
To call it a return to form is unfair – some projects might have had the odd weak spot, but there was always a degree of quality throughout – and you may struggle to recall individual tracks, though there’s a more than decent chance you’ll enjoy them.
What would be fair to say about Blunderbuss is it’s an artist doing exactly what he wants, and sounding all the better for it.