Alex Fredkin, Staff Writer
Everyone’s favorite rock Renaissance man, Jack White, has returned to the forefront with his debut solo album “Blunderbuss.” After taking a brief hiatus (last seen having recorded “The Dead Weather” in 2010), White is back in prime form. At times, he is more White Stripes on this album than ever before, stripping down and removing the dirty, grunge tone exemplified on “The Dead Weather” and showcasing electric blues at its finest. At others, he revels in country tunes and laid back, easy listening grooves.
Not surprisingly (to anyone who is familiar with him) White produced the album himself at his own recording studio, and it was released on April 24, although it was already being streamed for free on iTunes. This record definitely has a recognizable character and flow to it. The most in-your-face songs are at the beginning, starting with “Missing Pieces.” This number features White’s unique vocal tone and rhythm that everyone recognizes, as well as a White Stripes-esque guitar solo that gave me chills. This song still told me that he is back in a different way than before. Following that is the single “Sixteen Saltines,” in which White boasts “I eat sixteen saltine crackers, then I lick my fingers.” From personal experience, I know eating just six saltines at one time is impossible, but I digress. This song is the epitome of Jack White, featuring a few rockin’ chords and simple riffs but utilizing them to perfection, clocking in at a meager two and a half minutes.
The album slowly gets mellower as it progresses. The fourth track, “Love Interruption,” is a haunting song in which White sings about a failed love from the past. Relatively unknown singer Ruby Amanfu adds a nice touch with backing vocals. The songs in the second half of the album are not as impressive as those on the first, but still fulfill their purpose and represent White’s incessant need to experiment and do whatever he pleases. “I’m Shakin” sounds like it was stolen from a 1950s blues band, while “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” is a backwoods country song that could be played by anyone with a guitar and a front porch. The benefit of having an album with this much variety is that there are a few songs for everyone, and any fan of Jack White is likely to enjoy more than just a few of them. Overall, “Blunderbuss” is a great effort that incorporates many different genres into a cohesive package in ways that only Jack White can. I urge any fan of music, especially those of his previous works, to give this one a listen.